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Amended Complaint Adds New Allegations for Matthew Lang

Updated: March 06, 2012, 11:51

IL: A woman who had a sexual relationship with her band teacher when she was a 16-year-old student at Alton High School has amended her lawsuit against O'Fallon Township High School District 203.

According to the woman, identified as Mary Doe, O'Fallon school leaders should have warned Alton High School not to employ Matthew Lang, 38, as band director because of alleged improprieties that occurred when he was the band director at OTHS prior to his resignation and eventual hiring in Alton.

The amended complaint, which was filed Wednesday, adds new allegations that O'Fallon school leaders smelled alcohol on Lang's breath while he was working, and that O'Fallon leaders were aware of inappropriate sexual behavior toward students by others in the band department under Lang's supervision.

Stephanie Jones, attorney for District 203, said she believes the new allegations -- along with the original ones that claimed O'Fallon leaders should have warned Alton High School that Lang had a sexual relationship with a student while he worked there and that he talked to students in inappropriate sexual ways -- are incorrect. She said she believes the school district will eventually prevail in court.

"We think the facts are false and we will file an answer about why we think they are untrue," Jones said. "We hope the community will take the allegations with a grain of salt."

Thomas Falb, attorney for the former Alton High School student, was unable to be reached Monday for comment about the case.

Jones said O'Fallon High School leaders did not hide any information from Alton when Lang was hired there.

"They added an allegation about an airman that was helping with the band," Jones said of the amended filing. "He was an employee of the band boosters and not the district. When the district became aware of what he was doing, they called the police. They followed all the rules and did everything they can to make sure the students were safe.

"It would make no sense, if they took that kind of action against a non-employee, that they wouldn't take the same action against an employee," Jones said. "I think we'll be able to demonstrate with examples that the school would have acted swiftly if it was aware what was going on. But there is no evidence the board knew."

In July 2006, Airman Jeffrey L. Link, was court martialed and found guilty of having sex with 14 and 15-year old OTHS students. He was employed by band boosters in as an instructor in 2005.

Lang, who was 36 at the time, had sex with the 16 year old Alton student between February and August of 2009.

In August 2010 Lang, who is the only party besides the school district named in the lawsuit who has not settled, received a six-year prison sentence for sexual assault of the former student who was 16 when she and Lang began having a relationship.

Alton High School and the Illinois Federation of teachers settled their portion of the suit under undisclosed terms. Lang has never filed a response in the case.

At the sentencing hearing, it was disclosed that Lang also began having sex with a 17 year old a band student at OTHS during the 2000-01 school year. Lang and the former O'Fallon student kept their relationship secret until she was a senior in college. They married in 2008, but she filed for divorce after learning of the Alton allegations.

The lawsuit alleges that the O'Fallon school district had decided to fire Lang, but "pursuant to negotiations with Matthew Lang and his union and the school district," the firing was "termed a resignation." The union negotiated an agreement under which "no negative comments" would be made about Lang's resignation from O'Fallon, according to the suit.

Lang then applied for the band director's job at Alton. The suit alleges during a meeting between Alton and O'Fallon school leaders, O'Fallon representatives failed to warn Alton about Lang's misbehavior.

The case is set for a prelimiary hearing. But it was unclear Monday if the new allegations would push that date back.

BY SCOTT WUERZ - Belleville News-Democrat

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