Students settle molestation claims against Beaufort County School District for $4.6M


The Beaufort County School District has agreed to pay $4.6 million to settle six of seven lawsuits filed after a former teacher at Coosa Elementary School molested at least nine students.

The students were molested by music teacher Phillip Underwood-Sheppard between 1999 and 2002. The students were between the ages of 6 and 13. Some of the students were forced to perform sexual acts on the teacher in his music room office.

Underwood-Sheppard, 49, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2003 and is serving his sentence in Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, South Carolina. He had been a teacher for 17 years.

Details of the settlements, including the names of the students and their families, have been sealed under a court order.

Right now, the district is having to cover all but $300,000 of the $4.6 million award after its insurer refused to pay more of the costs.

The district has sued South Carolina School Boards Insurance Trust, saying it should be covered up to $5.5 million.

According to Chief Financial Officer Phyllis White, if the lawsuit fails, the district would likely have to raise taxes to cover the costs.

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