Horry County Schools pays $175K settlement after teacher convicted of sex crime

Norbert Ryan (Source: J. Reuben Long Detention Center)
Norbert Ryan (Source: J. Reuben Long Detention Center)

From WMBF News partner MyHorryNews.com:

Horry County Schools agreed to pay more than $100,000 to a former St. James Middle School student whose teacher was convicted of criminal sexual conduct after engaging in a relationship with the then 13-year-old girl, according to court records.

The settlement brings a close to the nearly two-year-old lawsuit, which the local family filed after learning the teacher, Norbert Ryan, had a sexual relationship with another student in Michigan prior to being hired by Horry County Schools, according to court records.

The former St. James student isn't identified in the lawsuit. Jeff Chandler, the family's attorney, could not be reached for comment.

Chandler told the Herald in 2011 that information about Ryan's past could have easily been obtained by Horry County Schools.

"The SRO (school resource officer) found it by just doing a little inquiry by calling the former high school in Michigan," he has said. "The school district failed our client in the hiring."

Police said Ryan was a 32-year-old social studies teacher at St. James Middle when he had sex with the girl during the 2009-2010 school year.

The illegal relationship led to Ryan's arrest, and he was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2010 after pleading guilty to a charge of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor younger than 16. He was ordered to pay court costs and was placed on the central registry of child abuse and neglect.

The lawsuit states that the school district was negligent in both the supervision of its students and the screening of prospective hires.

As part of the settlement, Horry County Schools denies any liability and agrees to pay $175,000, according to a settlement order signed by Judge Benjamin Culbertson. The order, which was filed on Sept. 10, stipulates that nearly $60,000 of the settlement cover legal fees and more than $100,000 be placed in an interest bearing account until the girl turns 18 in December. She'll be able to access the money then.

Teal Britton, a spokeswoman for Horry County Schools, could not be reached for comment.

In motions filed earlier this year, the school district's lawyers argued that there was no way school officials could have known about Ryan's "habit of misconducting himself in a manner dangerous to others" before hiring him.