U.S. District Court Judge Benita Pearson has been assigned to hear a civil lawsuit from a recent Poland High School graduate against former school resource officer and current Austintown Township Trustee Steve Kent.

The Poland Township Board of Trustees filed a notice last week to move the case from Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to federal court in Youngstown. The notice of removal includes a demand that a jury hears the case.

The lawsuit, which also names the Poland Board of Education and as many as 25 “John Does”, was originally filed on July 8, 2022.

Accusing Kent of being a sexual predator, the complaint alleges that the defendants had prior knowledge of Kent's alleged propensity towards female students or knowledge of his prior inappropriate relationships with female students.

 The teen's attorney accuses the school district and township of not properly training, supervising, or monitoring Kent, and causing the student's injuries.

 The teen, who was 16 and 17 years old at the time of the alleged incidents, says Kent was supposed to make the school environment safe, but instead accused him of being a sexual predator who groomed, manipulated, and coerced her to engage in various sexual acts with him.

None of the defendants filed a response to the civil suit when it was at the county level. Township Trustees have filed an answer to the complaint in federal court.  However, that document is not viewable by the public online.

Kent has been indicted on three counts of sexual battery and one count of tampering with evidence in which the teen who filed the civil lawsuit is the victim.

A pretrial in the criminal case against Kent is scheduled for August 26.

Kent remains an Austintown Township Trustee, but last week resigned his chairmanship of the board.