WEWOKA, Okla. (KFOR) – A newly filed federal lawsuit spells out unsettling details about a former Wewoka Middle School principal.
“It’s a tragedy. It’s traumatic,” said Ross Leonoudakis, an attorney representing a student and the student’s family. “My client and his family’s lives are forever altered. They will suffer these consequences the rest of their lives.”
In October, the former principal, Cody Barlow, 33, was arrested on child sexual assault charges.
Now, Barlow and the Wewoka Public School District are being sued, as Barlow is accused of “grooming” and “inappropriately touching” students. Meanwhile Leonoudakis says the district was aware of Barlow’s behavior well before it was reported.
“We are alleging not only that Cody Barlow sexually abused my client, but that those in the school district knew that Cody Barlow was a sexual predator long ago and did not tell anybody and allowed him to come to work every day,” said Leonoudakis.“Cody Barlow was a principal. He was a youth minister. He took positions of authority, of trust and responsibility in that community and infiltrated them all and took advantage of these kids.”
According to the federal court documents filed on Wednesday, Barlow displayed concerning behavior such as:
- “Grooming” the plaintiff.
- “Would often ‘roughhouse’ with members of the boy’s basketball team in ways that made students feel uncomfortable.”
- “Spent inordinate amounts of time with boys alone in his office despite there being no indication such boys were in trouble or otherwise there for disciplinary reasons.”
The court records also detail a Wewoka Middle School counselor’s discovery on October 12, 2022, when she walked into Barlow’s office and “witnessed Barlow standing behind a 7th grade boy, rubbing the boy’s shoulders and thrusting his hips back and forth against the back of the boy.”
“She reported that to authorities, and immediately that began a process of asking the school district ‘who else do you know about that’s been abused?’” said Leonoudakis.
Unfortunately, that allegedly led to an alarming admission.
According to the court documents, on October 12, 2022, Wewoka Superintendent, Dr. Shellie Gammill, admitted to the Oklahoma State Department of Education that “as of that date, she knew of at least 4 to 5 students involved in Barlow’s misconduct.”
The documents also allege that during meetings with parents on that same day, Dr. Gammill informed them about an incident that occurred approximately in September of 2022 where “a parent had walked into Barlow’s office and observed him molesting another boy” in the same way as the October incident.
“He’s been a schoolteacher for ten years. So, we expect that our investigation will uncover, unfortunately and sadly tragically, much more abuse of children in the community,” said Leonoudakis.
That’s why Leonoudakis is asking anyone who knows more about this alleged abuse to come forward. He can be reached at (512) 328-5333.
“That’s what it’s going to take to make sure that what was a safer community for everybody, there’s got to be change,” said Leonoudakis.
KFOR reached out to the Wewoka Public School District multiple times on Thursday and is still waiting to hear back.