Ex-Dover teacher, school district settle sex abuse survivor's lawsuit

Written by Dylan Segelbaum/The York Daily Record | Jul 12, 2018 1:15 PM

Former Dover teacher, Matthew Puterbaugh (Photo: File)


The Dover Area School Board must approve the settlement. It's set to meet next Tuesday.

(Dover) -- The Dover Area School District on Wednesday abruptly settled a lawsuit brought by a woman who experienced prolonged sexual abuse at the hands of her music teacher when she was a student.

"The case has been settled to the mutual satisfaction of all parties," said Farley Holt, the woman's attorney, as he stood next to Sharon O'Donnell, the school district's attorney, in the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Harrisburg. "No further comment will be provided."

The school board must approve the settlement. It's set to meet on Tuesday.

The woman, now 29, of Dover, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the Dover Area School District and her former teacher, Matthew Puterbaugh, in 2015. They reached the settlement in the middle of trial, after a jury started hearing testimony in the case. 

Puterbaugh, 51, of Dover Township, is serving 15 years in federal prison for production of child pornography. He pleaded guilty in the York County Court of Common Pleas to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and statutory sexual assault for abusing the woman.

He also settled the suit.

"The settlement was in everyone's best interest," said Joseph Green Jr., Puterbaugh's attorney, who declined to go into details of the resolution, as he went into an elevator.

In an interview, Holt said Puterbaugh agreed to pay the woman $50,000. She plans to use some of the money to go back to school.

Puterbaugh must also pay $45,000, in monthly installments of $250 over 15 years. The money -- there's a discount if it's paid earlier -- will be divided three ways and go into college funds for her children.

"This is all he has in his name," Holt said.

Before the case was settled, the woman testified for hours in graphic detail about the sexual abuse, which she said has affected every aspect of her life. She tried to kill herself four times and developed addictions to alcohol, prescription painkillers and heroin -- though she's now in recovery.

Puterbaugh, she said, started to abuse her in fourth grade.

When she was 13, Puterbaugh impregnated her, the woman testified. She said she was forced to seek an abortion in Maryland. He accompanied her to the procedure under the guise of being a concerned family friend.

The woman testified that she reported the abuse to teachers on two occasions, in 2002 and 2004.

But the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services; York County Office of Children, Youth and Families; and law enforcement authorities were never notified. The abuse continued.

She withdrew from the Dover Area School District in 2005. The woman took online classes to earn her high school diploma.

Northern York County Regional police have said they were never contacted about Puterbaugh until 2013.

Law enforcement eventually uncovered that he'd been secretly recording numerous female students. The pictures and videos, police said, constituted child pornography.

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The York Daily Record.

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