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Park City School District discussing settlement in abuse case

Posted at 4:00 PM, Jun 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-08 19:42:57-04

PARK CITY, Utah  — The Park City School District is in settlement talks to resolve a criminal case filed against it, accusing the district of failure to report disclosures of child abuse dating back years.

Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson confirmed to FOX 13 News that they are discussing a potential resolution.

"We’re trying to work on a resolution that will work to the benefit of both parties and serve the interests of justice in this case," said Mark Moffat, a criminal defense attorney retained by the school district.

The district was charged in March with three misdemeanor counts of failure to report child abuse. It is accused of not reporting disclosures of abuse dating back years. Olson has called it a "systemic and institutional failure."

Under Utah law, any disclosure of child abuse must be reported to law enforcement or the Utah Division of Child & Family Services to be investigated. The criminal charges allege that in several instances, no such reporting was made by district employees.

The case is a little unusual in that no specific individuals face charges, only the district as an entity. A hearing is scheduled before a Summit County Justice Court judge next week. However, it may be delayed as negotiations continue, Moffat told FOX 13 News.

Depending on the outcome of the criminal case, a recently passed law by the Utah State Legislature could potentially leave the district open to civil liability. In 2019, lawmakers removed governmental immunity in civil lawsuits if it can be proven that a school district failed to enact a plan to prevent child abuse.

Moffat told FOX 13 News he does not believe the district would be impacted.

"I don’t believe it pertains at all. The Park City School District has had a policy regarding reporting child abuse for many, many years. In addition to that, the Park City School District has annual training they conduct regarding the reporting of child abuse," he said. "And so I do not believe this is a matter that would relate to civil liability for the district."