Lindbergh High School sex case now getting national attention

FOX Files

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – St. Louis is receiving national attention over a former Lindbergh High School student whose sexual abuse case died with her.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell told FOX 2 the case is not over. He said there’s not enough now to charge, despite a recording of the former track coach talking about sex with his 16-year-old student.

On the recording, you can hear him say, “We did something that wasn’t right according to our laws these days, right? But you know I’m not a creeper. I didn’t creep.”

St. Louis County police recorded it using a wire worn by the accuser, Emilie Morris, in 2013. She was working with police on a sex case against her former coach, to document what she says he did to her in the 90s.

The Morris family said they were given the audio recording by police after Emilie died. The case against her former coach died with her.

“It renders that recording almost impossible to use with respect to admissibility in court,” Bell said.

FOX 2 featured the case in 2018. People are learning about it nationwide in People Magazine and on a documentary by the Oxygen network.

Bell said the main point left out of the documentary is how his prosecution is constrained.

“Whether you agree or disagree, the Constitution gives the defendant the right to confront their accuser,” he said.

Emilie died in 2014, found suffocated with her head in a trash can. Her death was ruled suspicious. Her friends and family continue fighting for her.

“We don’t have her anymore, so we are her voice,” Christine Lieber, Emilie’s friend, said in 2018.

Andrea Morris, Emilie’s sister, added: “I don’t think that she still can’t get the justice she wanted.”

Bell’s predecessor, Bob McCulloch, filed sodomy charges against the coach after police acquired the wire recording in 2013, but dropped them when Emilie Morris died.

We’re not naming the former coach because he currently faces no criminal charges.

Bell said that could change if someone else comes forward.

“If there are any other victims out there or anyone who has any direct knowledge, please contact our office directly – we want to know about it,” he said.

Lindbergh High School fired the former coach after his 2013 arrest and a spokesperson said the school takes steps to make it easy for students to report concerns including an anonymous tip line. The district provided the following information to FOX 2:

Lindbergh Schools is committed to providing a safe, supportive learning environment where students can grow and thrive.

Any allegation of misconduct by a staff member is deeply troubling, and we take it very seriously. Our procedures for preventing, training, identifying, and reporting inappropriate staff behavior follow best practices for school districts, and include the following:

• All employees undergo extensive background checks before they are hired. In addition, Missouri law now requires school districts to disclose to other districts if former employees have been investigated for misconduct.
• By law, all public school employees are mandatory reporters. This means they are required by law to report any allegation of improper conduct to the Missouri Department of Social Services – Children’s Division. The state then conducts a thorough, independent investigation.
• Every Lindbergh employee completes annual training called “Smarter Adults, Safer Children,” which teaches employees how to identify inappropriate staff/student conduct, and informs staff of their obligation as mandatory reporters.
• We teach students how to report a concern at school, whether that is directly to a teacher or administrator, or by using an anonymous tip line. In addition, Lindbergh teachers and administrators have worked hard to create a culture where students feel safe and comfortable sharing any concern with a trusted adult at school. (Lindbergh Schools Incident Reporting Form)
• Staff members are expected to maintain courteous and professional relationships with students. Maintaining appropriate physical and emotional boundaries with students is an essential requirement for employment in the district. (Policy GBH: Staff/Student Relations)
• If the district determines that discrimination, harassment, or retaliation has occurred, the district will take prompt, effective, and appropriate action to address the behavior, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects. (Policy AC: Prohibition Against Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation)
• All visitors to Lindbergh Schools are checked against the National Sex Offender Registry before entering the building.
• All communication between staff and students must be open and transparent. It must take place using communication methods that are provided by the district, such as district email accounts or Canvas. The district’s policies, regulations, procedures, and expectations regarding in-person communications at school and during the school day also apply to electronic communications for educational purposes, regardless of when those communications occur.

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