Defending himself against two felony sex abuse charges in 2010 cost Lanigan, 45, about $125,000. State law allows a county or state employee who is cleared of criminal charges to recover legal fees and expenses but not other costs, which for Lanigan were about $18,000. Court records show Lanigan first sought $107,838 for his fees and expenses in July 2010, two months after his acquittal in Fairfax County Circuit Court.
Eight months later, the school board voted to offer Lanigan $60,000. Lanigan then sued for the entire amount.
With a trial date approaching, the school board agreed in a closed session Thursday to pay $72,838: Lanigan’s original request, minus $35,000 he received in an insurance payment from the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers union, a school official and Lanigan’s lawyer said.
Lanigan said Friday that he is not satisfied with how the settlement came to a close.
“This has been two years of long work,” Lanigan said. “It does not make me financially whole, and it’s not as if the court case never happened.”
He acknowledged that state law did not require Fairfax to reimburse his full costs, “but if they wanted to truly back their teacher, they would take care of me,” Lanigan said.
John Torre, a Fairfax schools spokesman, said in a statement that the school board agreed to cover Lanigan’s legal fees that were not already paid to him by his union insurance policy.
The school board and Lanigan “reached a settlement on essentially the same terms that were offered to him last November,” Torre said in the statement.
William Reichhardt, Lanigan’s attorney, strongly disagreed with the claim that the terms were “essentially the same” as in November, but he declined to discuss specifics.
“It took an extremely lengthy period of time to get to this result,” Reichhardt said, “which as far as I’m concerned could have been done long before last November.”
Thomas Cawley, the lead attorney for the school board, did not return a message seeking comment.
Lanigan, a married father of three, was a well-respected physical education teacher at Centre Ridge Elementary School in Centreville, the boys soccer coach at Herndon High School and a coach of various other youth soccer teams. In January 2010, a sixth-grade student at Centre Ridge told her parents that Lanigan had picked her up in the school gymnasium, briefly fondled her, then carried her to an equipment room and lay “kind of on top of her” on a stack of tumbling mats, according to a police report.
The incident happened while three other children were in the gym with school in session, the girl said.