Lawsuit accuses Principia employee of sex crimes against underage student


Zachary Retzlaff

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TOWN AND COUNTRY, MO (KTVI) – A recently filed lawsuit against The Principia accuses the Christian Scientist school of essentially looking the other way while an employee carried on having a sexual relationship with an underage student.

According to our partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the million-dollar suit maintains the private school only issued verbal warnings after learning Zachary Retzlaff was carrying on a sexual relationship with an underage student. The lawsuit further accuses the school of interfering with criminal and civil cases.

Retzlaff, 33, was charged with statutory rape over the summer, but there the school was not mentioned in that case. He pleaded not guilty in that case.

The student’s parents filed the lawsuit October 16 in St. Louis County Circuit Court. They claim Retzlaff sexually assaulted their daughter more than 40 times on and off-campus between July 2014 and May 2015, and introduced her to sadomasochism. Retzlaff also allegedly invited other students to participate in group sex acts.

The girl, identified only as “Jane Doe” in the suit, was 16 years-old during part of the continued sexual encounters with Retzlaff.

The girl’s parents said she has run away and they believe she’s living with Retzlaff and wants to marry him.

According to the Post-Dispatch, neither Principia’s president nor principal would return phone calls or emails for a comment on Wednesday. The only comment given to the Post by a school staffer is that Retzlaff is a former employee.

But on Thursday, Principia Principal Travis Brantingham sent home a letter to school families and employees, denying the allegations set forth in the lawsuit. Brantingham said the Retzlaff and the student’s illicit relationship was fostered off-campus and after-school.

Brantingham said the girl’s parents are former Principia employees and are attempting to use this incident as a money grab.

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