Jury out in school harassment trial

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 29, 2007

After hearing attorneys’ closing arguments through most of the day Monday, the jury in a school sexual harassment trial began debating their verdict about 4 p.m. today.

Former teacher Laurie Mendiola is suing former Principal Tony Helms and the Rowan-Salisbury School System.

Mendiola says Helms forced her into an affair with him and the school board knew about the situation but didn’t do anything.

B. Ervin Brown, Mendiola’s attorney, urged jurors to consider the credibility of several witnesses in the case and the difference in demeanor during the trial between Mendiola and Helms.

Ken Soo, attorney for the school board, spoke to jurors about the various steps school employees took to investigate the relationship. He also pointed out that Mendiola knew her rights about sexual harassment but didn’t report any mistreatment.

Soo asked the jury not to hold the school board liable for any injury they may find that Mendiola incurred.