FAIRHAVEN, Mich. (FOX 2) - The New Baltimore Anchor Bay High School principal resigned after giving a wooden penis to a female security guard in front of other co-workers.
Former principal John Stanton feels he and his wife were forced to resign because of the fallout and they are suing.
"He did try to take his own life," said attorney Stephen Lovell, Ernst & Marko Law.
He felt like his whole career was over. We have to blur it, but just trust us when we tell you it was plywood shaped like a penis and accompanying parts.
Stanton gave to a security guard at his school. She had confiscated it from a student a while back. She was getting a new job elsewhere and Stanton thought giving it back would be a funny keepsake.
"The security guard would come up to Mr. Stanton and joke with him about it," Lovell said.
FOX 2: "And there were never any grievances filed about that or any issues to your knowledge?"
"No," Lovell said. "Nothing in his file."
Somehow this gag gifting got reported to other school administrators after they interviewed the security guard. They allegedly told Stanton the guard felt sexually harassed and he had just 24 hours to either resign or be publicly investigated.
"We have the security guard's sworn testimony under oath that she didn't say the things that they said she said in that letter," Lovell said.
The affidavit said she actually "thought it was funny" but at the time both Stanton and his wife Robin, also a principal, felt they had no choice but to resign. Robin felt targeted also, while both Stanton’s filed lawsuits in state and federal court.
The Stantons filed lawsuits in state and federal court claiming they were unlawfully forced out. The case involving the superintendent and school district were thrown out. in state court, but they're still fighting on both fronts. The school district thinks the state dismissal means the district was in the right.
Here's the district's attorney:
"What matters is, this is no different than a high school principal having a sexual relationship with a teacher in a school building," said attorney John Miller. "Then saying it was consensual, the female teacher didn't have a problem with it."
Parents don't quite see sex with a teacher as anything close to what Stanton did, seemingly in jest.
"It was a joke between them," said Ronae Foster, a parent. "It was something she confiscated and it was given back to her. It seemed innocent you can see how someone might have used that as an opportunity to use that against him."
The school district's attorney also says that Stanton and his wife could have given their side of the story via normal grievance procedures but didn't. Their attorney says that's because they were lied to.