In Lawsuit, Former MCPS Employee Alleges Sexual Harassment by Principal
Baker Middle School security guard says he was fired for rejecting sexual advances
John T. Baker Middle School
Photo via MCPS
A former Montgomery County Public School security guard is suing the school system, alleging sexual harassment, after he says a principal fired him when he rejected her sexual advances.
In a lawsuit in the United States District Court of Maryland, Scott Wilson alleges that John T. Baker Middle School Principal Louise Worthington made “a number of unwanted sexual advances” in 2014.
In response, lawyers for the school system argue that Wilson’s claims should have been filed within 300 days of when they occurred, in accordance with federal law. They filed a motion to have the case dismissed. A judge has not ruled on the motion.
MCPS spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala said Worthington is still principal at Baker Middle School in Damascus, where she has been employed since 2005. Wilson worked at the school as a security officer at the school from 2007 until his firing in 2018.
In one instance of alleged sexual harassment, detailed in court documents, Worthington allegedly asked Wilson to show her around his farm after she gave speeches at local elementary schools. Worthington then “insisted” Wilson show her his bedroom, the lawsuit alleges.
“[Wilson] was extremely uncomfortable with Dr. Worthington’s request but relented both because Dr. Worthington was his employer and because she had been very helpful to Plaintiff in his career as well as because Dr. Worthington was allowing Plaintiff’s daughters to attend Baker Middle School despite living outside the boundary,” according to court documents.
Worthington allegedly laid on his bed and told him “that she was waiting for him.” Wilson refused to join Worthington in bed, according to court documents, and insisted they return to school.
In a separate incident, Worthington allegedly took Wilson’s keys and put them in her underwear and walked away from him, forcing him to follow her to her office.
Wilson reported the alleged harassment to his supervisor in early 2015, his lawyers say, but his supervisor did not investigate and “nothing further was done.”
Instead, Wilson asserts that Worthington began retaliating against him by leaving him alone to supervise lunch periods, moving his office and giving poor references to other potential employers.
Onijala said the school system investigated the claims and found them to be “unsubstantiated.”
“MCPS is unable to comment on pending litigation, however, it is important to note that MCPS takes all complaints of harassment seriously,” Onijala said in a statement. “At the time of the complaint, Mr. Wilson’s claims were thoroughly investigated and based on what we determined in our investigation, those claims were found to be unsubstantiated.”
Worthington did not respond to requests for comment on Monday and Tuesday.
In February 2017, Wilson was arrested in Washington, D.C., and charged with illegally possessing a firearm and falsely impersonating a police officer. The arrest was detailed in MCPS’ response to his sexual harassment lawsuit.
The charges were ultimately reduced to attempted possession of an unregistered firearm, and Wilson was sentenced to two years of unsupervised probation and ordered to pay court costs of $50, according to court records.
Wilson alleges that he reported the arrest to his supervisors immediately, in accordance with MCPS policy, and he was told to continue working. MCPS, however, says the arrest was not reported until May 2017 and Wilson was placed on administrative leave while the school system conducted a review of the incident.
Wilson’s employment was terminated in January 2018, according to a letter to Wilson from MCPS Chief Operating Officer Andrew Zuckerman, included in court filings.
In the letter, Zuckerman said the police investigation showed Wilson unlawfully possessed a gun, was wearing a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) windbreaker, had a police badge and was driving a personal vehicle with red and blue lights activated at the time of his arrest.
Further, Zuckerman said Wilson was not cooperative or honest during the school system’s internal investigation.
In the letter, Zuckerman wrote that Wilson’s arrest was concerning, “as is your lack of honesty and misrepresentation of information during the investigative process.”
“These actions demonstrate that you lack appropriate professional judgment and integrity. … Your behavior, lack of honesty and complete disconnect with facts leaves me no choice but to dismiss you from employment with MCPS,” Zuckerman wrote.
Wilson argues in his lawsuit that Worthington pushed to have him fired because he denied her sexual advances in 2014.
He says losing his job has resulted in weight gain, “exacerbated” his diabetes and contributes to periods of sleeplessness and periods of lacking energy “to do anything other than sleep.”
He is seeking more than $1 million in damages from MCPS and has requested a jury trial.
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at email@example.com