A lawsuit detailed how a “child-like” special needs girl was raped and sexually assaulted by several students on a school bus as the driver did nothing. However, the case became even more disturbing when the school refused to hand over video recordings of the alleged abuse.
At some point, every parent worries about sending their child off to school. When it comes to students with special needs, parents are placing extra trust in the education system to protect their especially vulnerable children. Disturbingly, one mother’s worst nightmare concerning her disabled daughter gets worse with each revelation.
In a lawsuit filed on behalf of a girl identified as “Jane Doe,” a mother claims that her 14-year-old special needs daughter was subjected daily to “monstrous” sexual abuse on a Georgia school bus, NBC News reports. The girl, who suffers from physical and mental disabilities and is described as “child-like,” allegedly endured horrific sexual assault and rape just feet from a man who was supposed to be her protector.
“She has and continues to have neurodevelopmental disabilities that impede and limit her physical and mental capabilities. Doe functions at a cognitive and communicative level far below her actual age,” the lawsuit says, describing her as a sweet girl with a “young, child-like nature.”
The abuse reportedly took place on a school bus in Georgia’s Fulton County School District over the course of several weeks. According to the lawsuit, the abuse began when a special needs boy moved to sit next to her so that he could grope her breasts, prompting a second male student to do the same. Soon, the abuse escalated.
After several similar incidents, a male student allegedly assaulted and raped the girl. The same student is accused of forcing the victim to perform various sex acts before ultimately stripping the girl entirely naked and raping her. Physicians later confirmed that she had been raped.
Despite the driver’s denial of witnessing any wrongdoing, the bus only contains three or four rows of seats and is about as big as a large SUV. The bus is also equipped with a wide-safety mirror as well as audio and video surveillance cameras, which allow the driver to monitor the seats behind him at all times.
“The bus driver, in this case, was completely derelict in his duties and repeatedly exhibited a willful and deliberate indifference to maintaining student discipline and ensuring student safety,” the lawsuit reads. “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,” it continues.
Fulton County School District withheld evidence.
Perhaps, the most disturbing aspect of the case is that the school withheld crucial evidence from the girl’s mother and lawyer. Attorney A. Lee Parks claims that a source within the school district confirmed to him that the surveillance video captured each of the attacks in great detail, 11Alive News reports. Still, he says that the school won’t release the footage.
Parks said even though the audio recordings and video footage from the bus would “verify all of the plaintiff’s allegations,” Fulton County Schools had “refused to produce the footage to the plaintiff or her parents, denying her access to crucial evidence.”
The lawsuit not only holds the school district responsible but accuses the bus driver of inaction. Even when the alleged abuse led to the girl’s rape, the driver only reported that he “noticed something,” despite the child being “stripped naked” and “physically battered.”
“You just can’t run a bus with a bus driver who is oblivious,” the attorney said. “I mean, if this was a one-time incident, maybe he didn’t catch it. Seventeen days! Of horrific, sexual assaults. That’s a guy who, excuse the pun, is asleep at the wheel.”
Fulton County School District has since confirmed that the bus driver was “immediately separated from the district.” However, Parks and the victim’s mother are outraged that more wasn’t done to prevent her daughter’s “hellish abuse.”
The lawsuit accuses Fulton County School District of being “deliberately indifferent” to the child’s sexual abuse. The mother is seeking damages and claims that her daughter now suffers emotional distress.
The accusations are particularly disturbing, as they involve children with special needs and a district employee sitting just a few feet away. The allegations are enough to make any parent, especially those with disabled children, more concerned about the adults they trust to protect their children.