GREENSBORO — Two Wilmington law firms filed a class-action suit Friday against the Guilford County Board of Education, alleging the school district did not protect students from a man attorneys termed a predator.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of “Jane Doe,” a pseudonym used to protect the identity of the student, who was enrolled at Dudley High School from about 2016 to the present, according to the suit.
The nearly 30-page lawsuit also names Christopher Arnell Holland as a defendant. Holland, a former teacher’s assistant for students with special needs and coach at Dudley, faces multiple felony sex crime charges.
Greensboro police charged him in March with three counts of sex offense with a student.
During the investigation, “additional victims were identified,” prompting more charges, police said Monday in a news release.
Holland was charged with six new crimes — three counts of statutory rape of a child by an adult, two counts of statutory sex offense with a child by an adult and one count of indecent liberties with a child, police said.
The alleged incidents took place between 2017 and 2019.
Jail records show Holland faces a total of nine counts of sex offense with a student, five counts of statutory rape and one count of indecent liberties with a student.
It wasn’t clear late Friday if the additional counts involved the same alleged victims or new ones.
Holland, 37, remains in the Guilford County jail on $3.7 million bail, jail records show.
“We are aware of the filing of the lawsuit,” said Nora Carr, the chief of staff for Guilford County Schools. “We certainly are cooperating fully with the criminal investigation, which is ongoing. Beyond that it would be inappropriate to comment on pending litigation and an active criminal investigation.”
She said Holland no longer works for the district.
According to the lawsuit, filed Friday in Guilford County Superior Court, Holland started working for the district in August 2014.
He resigned March 11, according to attorneys with the Rhine and Lea/Schultz law firms in Wilmington. The two firms said in a news release about the case that they have experience with class-action lawsuits, including suing other North Carolina school districts over similar sexual-assault allegations.
The lawsuit alleges that district administrators “had been made aware of concerns surrounding Holland’s interactions and relationships with other students, dating back years before his current victims emerged. Yet, he was allowed to remain as a teacher’s assistant and coach with unlimited access to his victims.”
Along with the school board and Holland, defendants include up to 20 “Roes,” officials yet to be named who are “in some manner responsible for her injuries and losses, and those of the class.”
The lawsuit alleges the school board “concealed and failed to disclose Holland’s inappropriate relationships with his minor students, thereby allowing the abuse to continue and be perpetrated on additional students.”
The lawsuit also alleges Holland sexually assaulted students both at home and on school grounds, during and after school hours.
“Jane Doe” and the other members of the class “suffered severe emotional distress and mental anguish,” due to their interactions with Holland, the lawsuit contends.
It’s not clear how many current or former students could be involved in the class-action suit. The law firms said in the release they are seeking class-action status “on behalf of all of Holland’s victims, many of whom were aged 14 to 18 years old at the time of the alleged crimes.”