WHEELING, W.Va. — An Ohio County judge has dismissed a civil lawsuit filed against a former teacher accused of sexually and mentally abusing a former student for years.
The civil suit filed by Christopher Birch, 28, a former student of Elizabeth Harbert, was dismissed recently by Circuit Court Judge Jason Cuomo.
He cited the claims brought on by Birch were filed past the statute of limitations.
Birch filed the suit on April 4 and claims that he and Harbert began a 14-year relationship in 2004 when he was a 13-year old student at Bridge Street Middle School in Wheeling, in which he was sexually and mentally abused.
In 2004, Harbert was 28 years old and their relationship produced four children, including the first one when Birch was 16 years old and a student at Wheeling Park High School.
Harbert, 43, was Birch’s teacher at both of those schools.
She was arrested on April 24 and charged criminally with sexual abuse by a parent or guardian, being in a position of trust and allowing sexual abuse to be inflicted upon a child and displaying of sex organs by a parent, guardian or custodian.
She posted the $10,000 bond after being arraigned by Ohio County Magistrate Patricia Murphy.
The dismissal of the civil cases does not affect the criminal charges Harbert faces.
Cuomo also dismissed former Wheeling Park High School principal and current Ohio County Board of Education member Christine Carder as a defendant in the civil lawsuit.
Carder was accused of knowing about the relationship of Harbert and Birch but not reporting it.
Cuomo did not dismiss the Ohio County Board of Education in the civil suit.
The board wanted to dismiss itself from one count of negligent retention, hiring, and supervision of Harbert.
“Justice comes in many forms, and Chris Birch is pleased and grateful that his civil case will proceed against the Ohio County Board of Education,” Teresa Toriseva, Birch’s attorney said in a released statement.
“He is also grateful for the efforts of the West Virginia State Police and the Ohio County Prosecutor, who are pursuing separate criminal charges.”