A 14-year-old girl with physical and developmental disabilities was allegedly sexually assaulted on a small school bus over a period of nearly two weeks. Her attackers? Two other students with disabilities. Now the girl’s mother has filed a lawsuit against the Fulton County School District (FCSD) in Georgia, alleging that the driver ignored earlier abuse happening on the vehicle.
“Unbelievably, the sexual abuse took place in only three to four rows of seats on a small special-needs school bus,” Lee Parks, a lawyer for the girl, said in a statement.
The girl is being referred to as “Jane Doe” in the lawsuit to protect her identity.
The abuse is said to have started on April 4, 2019, when a boy with special needs sat next to the girl on the bus and began touching her inappropriately. The lawsuit says this “emboldened” a second student with special needs to do the same thing, and his behavior escalated as days went on.
“It was not until April 20, 2019, after Doe had been stripped naked, physically battered and raped, that the bus driver reported to FCSD that he had ‘noticed something,’” the lawsuit said. Neither boys’ names or ages have been released; they are simply referred to as “Student A” and “Student B” in the lawsuit.
“The multiple acts of sexual assault and rape over a period of almost two weeks could not have taken place without the knowledge and/or deliberate indifference of the Bus driver, who never once intervened to protect Doe and report Students A and B to FCSD and the police,” the lawsuit said.
In the past, the bus had both a driver and an adult monitor, but that monitor had not been on the bus in a while. There is audio and video recording system on the bus, which Parks told 11Alive News captured and recorded all of the attacks.
“So it’s not a matter of whether it happened, we have it on video,” Parks said. “There’s a video of the rape, and then there’s medical confirmation of the rape.” Parks is filing suit to obtain the raw footage, which the school district has refused to give over at this time.
The FCSD said in a statement to the New York Times that the allegations were “extremely serious and concerning.” They went on to add, “Because we are dealing with minor students, this is a particularly sensitive matter. We need to respect the privacy of all students allegedly involved. We look forward to the case being adjudicated through the legal process, not by attempting to make legal gains with press statements and grandstanding.”
Parks is asking for money to help toward the girl’s treatment and recovery.