Just days after a former Pine Bluff School District employee filed a lawsuit against Pine Bluff High School principal Michael Nellums, a former student also filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment.
Just days after a former Pine Bluff School District employee filed a lawsuit against Pine Bluff High School principal Michael Nellums, a former student also filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment. On Jan. 29, lawyers on behalf of Alquantavious Stokes filed a class action complaint against Nellums, superintendent Jeremy Owoh and the district.
“Plaintiff participated in sports,” the lawsuit alleges. “Plaintiff got into a fight. Plaintiff was brought into Nellums’ office and threatened [him] with expulsion. Nellums then came behind plaintiff and started rubbing plaintiff’s back while at the same time Nellums held his own genitals.”
Court records obtained by The Commercial show that during the incident Nellums told Stokes he didn’t have to get expelled in exchange for doing something for him. But, Stokes didn’t submit to his request and more sexual advances followed.
“… Nellums continued to regularly call plaintiff into his office and sexually harass plaintiff,” the lawsuit alleges. “To escape this, plaintiff withdrew from Pine Bluff High School and tried to go to Watson Chapel School District. But, Pine Bluff School District contacted Watson Chapel and caused plaintiff to be forced to return to Pine Bluff High School.”
While Stokes was enrolled in school, he alleges that Nellums “tossed drug paraphernalia” at him and he caught it.
“Nellums said now you’re going to do some time,” the lawsuit alleges. “Plaintiff said you tossed it to me. Nellums denied it and said what [are] you going to do for me. Plaintiff was threatened with various other discipline for things like absences and Nellums would say it could be taken care of but would ask what [are] you going to do for me.”
Nellums left his role as principal at Pine Bluff High School. It was during that time, Stokes felt “good” about being enrolled in high school since he would no longer be harassed. But, he transferred from Pine Bluff High School during the end of his junior year after finding out that Nellums was set to return as principal.
“Plaintiff did not want further harassment, so he went to North Little Rock to graduate high school,” the lawsuit alleges. “Defendant Nellums’ conduct made plaintiff not want to go to school. It caused him to worry about school from home. It caused him to fear assault, discipline and even criminal action.”
The lawsuit also states that because Stokes denied Nellums’ advances that he was banned from participating in school activities and sports. The class action complaint claims that Nellums sexually harassed more than 23 students at Pine Bluff High School and “successfully” engaged in sexual activity with some of them.” The suit also accuses security guards at the high school of sexually harassing students.
“The number of victims could be in the hundreds,” the lawsuit alleges.
The suit also accuses security guards at the high school of sexually harassing students along with Nellums.
“… Plaintiff’s claims are typical of the class, which is students at Pine Bluff High School, when Nellums was principal, who were subjected to sexual harassment, sexual touching, sexual requests or actual sexual assault, who were harassed at any time in the last three years, who are now under the age of 21, and accordingly within the statue of limitations for outrage or negligence claims,” the lawsuit alleges.
Nellums has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into the lawsuit, according to Pine Bluff School District superintendent Jeremy Owoh. The Pine Bluff Commercial reached out to Nellums for comment, but did not receive a response by press time.
“The District is aware of the lawsuit filed against Dr. Nellums and the district, which was the first time the district administrative team ever received any notice of the allegations contained in the lawsuit,” said Pine Bluff School District superintendent Jeremy Owoh in an email to The Commercial. “The district is taking prompt remedial measures to address the issues raised in the lawsuit. Dr. Nellums has been placed on administrative leave pending the ongoing investigation. As this matter is both a personnel issue and involves student privacy rights, the district cannot give further comment.”