More allegations of sexual abuse among Highland athletes surface amid investigation into football team
News 12 is learning about more allegations of sexual abuse among athletes in the Highland Central School District as state police investigate accusations involving modified football team players.
Abigail Kemp was a 13-year-old freshman at Highland High School in 2018 when she says another player on her softball and volleyball team began sexually abusing, harassing and stalking her in school.
“She would come up to me and touch me when I was getting dressed,” recalls Kemp. “One time, I bent over to put my pants on, and she came up behind me and grabbed me. I remember stumbling over and walking out of the locker room just kind of embarrassed.”
Kemp’s parents, Elizabeth and David Kemp, filed a lawsuit in 2021 against the district and the other student’s father, who is a district teacher and coach, and won a settlement in 2022.
It alleges the district was responsible for battery, sex discrimination, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and retaliation for allegedly providing an environment for the abuse to continue.
“I said this child should not be playing in sports, let alone playing with my daughter,” says Elizabeth Kemp. “I wanted her removed from the team, and they wouldn’t do it.”
The family says despite notifying administrators about the abuse, pressing criminal charges and getting a restraining order, Kemp was kept in the same classes and teams as her abuser.
MORE: Highland modified football team under investigation after sexual assault allegations against players
A coach is allegedly heard in one recording used as evidence telling Kemp to switch to a JV team in 10th grade, when she was a starting pitcher, instead of taking action against the other player.
News 12 obtained a copy of the recording and listened to it in its entirety.
“I can’t compromise 14 people and their chance of success because of one person,” said the coach. “I can’t put your needs over everyone else. To me, the solution is pitch on JV.”
The Kemps had hoped that their lawsuit would protect other district students from being similarly victimized and reached out to News 12 after new allegations surfaced this month of district football players sexually assaulting at least two other teenage players in the locker room at the middle school.
“Even at 14, I knew this wasn’t right,” says Abigail.
News 12 reached out to the district for an update on the latest allegations and comment on the lawsuit but didn’t hear back.
I just don’t understand,” says Elizabeth. “The children should be safe in school, and they’re not.”
The Kemps say they eventually decided to move from their hometown to another school district Abigail’s junior year because of the student’s ongoing abuse and the way the school was handling it.
“We were made to feel like we were in the wrong. It was very bizarre,” says Elizabeth. “I felt like we were banging our heads against the wall while I was trying to protect my child.”