Area news media reports that Episcopal High School, located in Baton Rouge, has been sued by a former student for alleged .grooming, sexual assault and withholding grades. The allegations involve former teacher Vincent Hoang, who was terminated by the school after the allegations became public.
The suit, filed under a Z Doe pseudonym, alleges that Hoang told the plaintiff that she was a beautiful black woman and someone with whom he’d like to have a sexual relationship.
The plaintiff alleges that Hoang’s grooming efforts escalated when she turned 18. This included asking her to babysit a child at his home, then trying to arrange “alone time” with the plaintiff.
The lawsuit also alleges that Hoang had a baby with another student.
The suit further alleges that in 2022 Hoang texted the plaintiff and threatened to reduce her grade in retaliation for telling others about the babysitting incident. Another student saw the text and report it to school officials, who terminated Hoang. The lawsuit alleges that fellow students bullied and harassed the plaintiff, causing her to withdraw from the school.
The school denies it had prior knowledge of Hoang’s conduct and says it acted immediately when it became aware of the allegations.
When news of the lawsuit broke, Hoang, now employed at Woodlawn High School, was suspended and recommended for termination.
The situation raises several questions:
- How did Hoang get hired at a public school in light of the prior allegations?
- Why did Episcopal High not file a police report? Even if no actionable crime was committed, a police report is an essential step in these situations, as it provides police with context should future incidents occur.
- Why did Episcopal High not state the reasons for Hoang’s termination when it verified his employment for the position with Woodlawn?
- Was the behavior reported to state educational licensing officials?
- Why did Episcopal allegedly allow bullying and retaliation? Based on our experience, this sounds painfully familiar and more common than not in such situations.
- Why does the Episcopal Church not maintain a central database to prevent persons like this from resurfacing?
In short, the allegations we have read are the norm, not the exception, in the Episcopal Church. All involved, from the bishop diocesan to classroom teachers, need to ask some tough questions about their own conduct and standards.
We also are aware that far too often the church’s usual insurance carrier, the Church Pension Group, takes a thoroughly un-Christian approach to lawsuits of this sort, preferring litigation over resolution.
Let us hope that the school, the diocese, and the insurance carriers take action to actually fix things, versus trying to shut down criticism. And let us hope that others who may have been hurt by Hoang come forward with their stories; sunlight is a powerful disinfectant.
Neither Hoang nor Episcopal High have responded to inquiries.