Transparency NJ reports that the district will pay nearly $1 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a borough family over a 2018 incident in which a man traveled from Florida and sexually assaulted their daughter.
By Matt Skoufalos | January 1, 2021
The family of a Collingswood girl who was sexually assaulted in 2018 by a man she allegedly met through a school-issued computer has settled a lawsuit against the borough school district for $950,000.
The judgment was first reported yesterday by Transparency NJ, which published court documents from the case and summarized the November 11 settlement approved by Camden County Judge Yolanda C. Rodriquez.
In 2018, the victim in the incident was a 12-year-old student at Collingswood Middle School when she was led out of town by Liam Heim, a 21-year-old from Gulfport, Florida, whom she met on a Discord chat server.
The two were found later in a Philadelphia hotel after an extensive, interstate search that was aided by information provided by members of the Discord server, who told NJ Pen that they had observed the victim being groomed for this encounter and tried to prevent it.
Subsequent to the incident, Heim pled guilty to charges of traveling in interstate commerce to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor, and transportation of a minor in interstate commerce with intent to engage in unlawful sexual activity, according to the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Office.
He is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence and will follow a lifetime of supervised release upon its completion.
In 2018, the mother of the child in question told NJ Pen that she feared her daughter had been lured through school computers.
The girl’s parents had asked administrators to keep the device at school, and said their daughter didn’t have access to the Internet other than through school-issued devices.
“For about three months, we had been very concerned about her being on the computer so often,” she said.
“We also discussed them collecting the computer from her at the end of the day. This was not done.”
“She was hiding from us, chatting with him on that computer, without us knowing because we thought the school had the computer,” the woman said.
“I’m tired of people assuming we let this happen. We went above and beyond to keep her safe from the computer, but the school failed us.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the child’s guidance counselor knew about the problem and didn’t address it.
Of the $950,000 settlement, the victim will be paid $650,000 through a structured settlement, less $185,427 in attorney fees and other costs, and her parents, $300,000, less $100,000 in attorney fees and costs, Paff reported.
Settlement of this case does not certify any admission of wrongdoing or culpability; it merely prevents the matter from going to a jury trial.
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