A PE teacher falsely accused of molesting a 12-year-old schoolgirl has spoken of his pain at telling his children he was going to be arrested. Sean Lanigan was pulled out of a class in Fairfax, Virginia, and told he was going to be arrested for allegedly carrying out the offenses.
In reality his 'crimes' had been invented and the schoolgirl bore a grudge against him.
Despite being cleared of all the offenses, the teacher’s $125,000 legal fees still haven’t been repaid by the state and he is struggling to get his life back. The young girl claimed that the teacher had taken him into the gym and said he was going to ‘treat her like a Queen’ and briefly groped her.
The married father-of-three, aged 43 when the allegations were made in January 2010, could have faced 40 years in jail if found guilty. He had told his ‘victim’ off for being abusive on the school bus and the girl apparently told her friends: ‘Mr Lanigan’s a jerk. I’m going to make him pay.’
He was held in Fairfax County Adult Detention Center for four nights after being accused of carrying out the offense.
He told the Washington Post: ‘We try to teach them (the children) to do the right thing and I had to tell them that Daddy was going to jail and my name was going to be on the news. It was heartbreaking.
‘It’s very difficult to explain to a seven-year-old, 10-year-old, 13-year-old, what I was accused of - why the girl lied and why I had to go to jail,’ he told the newspaper.
Now, Mr Lanigan’s reputation and career are in tatters.
He still doesn’t have a job; his wife has had to quit hers as the family keeps being moved around and the Fairfax School District are refusing to pay his $125,000 in legal fees.
‘The school life, my family life has been in disarray and still is,’ he said, adding that they are ‘coping day by day.’
He said it was dreadful to spend time in a jail accused of a crime he did not commit.
‘It was scary, I was just wide-eyed. I’m an accused child molester. I’m thinking, “How am I going to last in here?”
His nightmare began last January when he was taken out of his class at Center Ridge Elementary School by two police officers were waiting to interrogate him. After 25 minutes of small talk Detective Nicole Christian, the lead detective in the case said: ‘You really have no idea why you’re here, do you?.'...