In the tree-dappled bedroom community of Snellville, Georgia, just 45 minutes outside of Atlanta, high-school band teacher Ville Jones spent years molesting female students—while the school’s principal ignored it.
That’s according to a federal lawsuit filed on Friday, which claims that in March 2016, South Gwinnett High School Principal Eric Thigpen and his assistant principal, Monique Lee, saw a video of Jones “‘wrestling’ and groping and laying on top of female students.” But instead of reporting the band teacher to authorities, they allegedly asked the student who brought forward the evidence to “destroy or delete” it.
Friday’s lawsuit was filed by one of Jones’s four alleged teen victims, who say they were assaulted between November 2014 and April 2017 in his office, in the theater dressing room, in a lab classroom, in the band uniform room, in the backseat of his car, in the woodwind room, and elsewhere.
According to the lawsuit, the four girls, all of whom were minors and members of the school band, “were manhandled, mistreated, sexually assaulted and physically and emotionally injured.” Jones has reportedly admitted to the abuses.
The lawsuit claims that Jones also had a relationship with a sophomore student in North Carolina before he moved to Georgia—and that the girl gave birth to his child when she was 21. Administrators who hired Jones in Gwinnett County should have known about his previous sexual contact with students at his past jobs, the suit argues.
In any case, Jones reportedly passed a background check before he was hired at South Gwinnett High School.
The 45-year-old Jones was arrested with three other Gwinnett County teachers in May, all of whom were accused of sexually assaulting students in the area. Jones was later indicted on 21 charges of sexual assault and child molestation. He remains in jail until his trial, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which first reported on the lawsuit and arrests.
Shortly before he was arrested, Jones was allowed by the school to resign for “health reasons,” according to the lawsuit. Defendants in the suit, including the district’s superintendent, Gwinnett County Public Schools, Lee, and Thigpen did not respond or declined comment to local news outlets.
The plaintiff has asked for a jury trial to determine compensatory damages.