Duke Ellington School of the Arts

2 Civil Suits Over Teacher Sex Abuse at Ellington School of the Arts Resolved

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Two civil suits filed against the Duke Ellington School of the Arts over teacher sex abuse allegations have been resolved.

The News4 I-Team previously reported a series of stories about former students – including those behind the civil suits – who alleged they were sexually abused by different teachers while attending the D.C. school.

One of the students told the I-Team former department chair Mark Williams began a multi-year sexual relationship with her while she was a student in his classroom in the 2000s. Now in her 30s, the woman filed a Jane Doe lawsuit earlier this year alleging the school, school district and others failed to protect her from the abuse. 

But a U.S. District Court judge tossed out her case last month over statutes of limitations issues, noting the dismissal "exonerates neither Ellington nor the other defendants."

The I-Team located another woman who said she also was abused by Williams while attending the school nearly a decade after the first student.

The Metropolitan Police Department told the I-Team a criminal investigation into Williams is ongoing. Williams resigned from the school in 2019 while under investigation for a separate allegation of misconduct and has never been charged. He could not be reached for comment. 

Meanwhile, a separate civil suit against the school involving former arts teacher Mark Walker appears to have been settled out of court. In the filing, the former student alleged the abuse began when she was a junior at Duke Ellington and occurred on and off school property.

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Earlier this year, that student told the I-Team she didn’t report the abuse until a detective called her in 2020 when another former student came forward. Walker also reportedly left the school in 2019.

Police arrested Walker last year on one charge of first-degree child sex abuse. In his first appearance, he entered a plea of not guilty. Court records show his criminal case is still awaiting consideration by a grand jury. Neither he nor his attorneys could be reached for comment. 

In a statement, a spokesman for Duke Ellington said the civil case against the school involving Williams "was appropriately dismissed" and the suit involving Walker was "resolved to the mutual satisfaction of both parties." He added, "No taxpayer or donor funds were expended."

Duke Ellington spokesman Mark Irion continued, “Although these matters were resolved or dismissed, Ellington remains committed to fostering a culture of absolute intolerance for any behavior that creates an unsafe atmosphere for our students.”

Dawn Jackson, the attorney for Jane Doe in the Williams case, told News4, “Individuals who were victimized as children are now being re-victimized by restrictions set by the law.” 

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