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Student Sues School District Over Sexually Abusive Former Band Teacher

Former West Aurora High School band director Steve Orland has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for sexually abusing two students. (Credit: Kane County Sheriff's Office)

Former West Aurora High School band director Steve Orland has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for sexually abusing two students. (Credit: Kane County Sheriff’s Office)

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AURORA, Ill. (CBS) — A former student of a band teacher convicted of sexual abuse is now suing the West Aurora School District.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Waelti reports, Stephen Orland, 43, is a former band teacher at West Aurora High School who is now serving a 12-year prison sentence for criminal sexual abuse.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Waelti reports

A lawsuit now has been filed in Kane County by one of Orland’s former students, alleging that Orland engaged in sexual activities with her at the high school on a daily basis in 2010, but that school officials did nothing to stop it.

The Daily Herald reports the plaintiff, a 16-year-old junior at the time, alleges that Orland put cards and notes in her locker, sent her text messages, and even wrote her bogus hall passes to facilitate sexual liaisons.

The lawsuit claims that Orland regularly engaged in “acts of sexual innuendo and suggestion,” and often hugged, kissed and otherwise touched female students in a suggestive fashion, the Daily Herald reports. The suit also makes reference to an incident on July 6, 2010, where a janitor heard “giggling and other sounds” coming from a band storage room and caught Orland inside with a female student, the newspaper reported.

The janitor, Leon Smith, told CBS 2’s Dave Savini about that incident.

Smith said he caught Orland with a student in a storage room for the band. He said the lights were out; Orland had the girl up against a wall, and his hands were near her chest

“I said ‘what’s going on?'” said Smith. “I was shocked to see Steve Orland over there, and he just – boom – took off running.”

Smith said the girl started fixing her blouse.

The school district is citing legal constraints in response to the allegations, but says it is cooperating with authorities, the Daily Herald reported.

Prosecutors said Orland, who knew the girls since they were freshmen at West Aurora High School, sent them thousands of texts and dropped notes and letters in their lockers during school. In pleading guilty, he admitted that he arranged to meet the girls in a band storage room on separate occasions, where he abused them.

Authorities have said Orland could have been stopped long before his arrest in May 2011. But instead of calling police or the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, school administrators decided to conduct their own investigation.

At the end of that investigation, Orland was given a warning about being alone in that band storage room with a student. Sources said the superintendent and principal at the school kept that warning a secret even from the assistant principal, who said he should have been told.

Criminal court records show, in the year following this warning, Orland was allowed to give dozens of hall passes to girls to get them alone. He also was allowed to go on an overnight band trip, where he had sexual relations with a student.

Nearly a year after Smith’s reporting, Orland was caught in the same band room with a student and, this time, was arrested.

The DCFS now says the school district violated the law in failing to notify the agency immediately about the allegations against Orland.