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Court declines to review statutory rape suit


WASHINGTON--The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to review a sexual harassment case in which a then-16-year-old ice cream store worker sued her former employer after she was the victim of statutory rape by her former supervisor.

The ruling let stand a July 2006 decision in Jane Doe vs. Oberweis Dairy, in which the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago overturned a lower court's decision in which the defendant was granted summary judgment and ruled that the plaintiff could proceed with her case against North Aurora, Ill.-based Oberweis.

Matt Nayman, the shift supervisor of Jane Doe--who was permitted to litigate her case under a pseudonym--was subsequently imprisoned for his actions, according to the decision.

Among the issues dealt with in the three-judge panel's unanimous decision was the dairy's liability for Mr. Naynam's conduct.

"The defendant was not entitled to summary judgment on the question in this case," says the decision.

"An employer of teenagers is not in loco parentis, but he acts at his peril if he fails to warn their parents when he knows or should know, that their children are at substantial risk of statutory rape by an older, male shift supervisor in circumstances constituting workplace harassment," said the opinion.