Lawsuit: Special needs child was sexually assaulted for weeks on school bus

Child with special needs allegedly assaulted on school bus

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. — A newly filed lawsuit alleges that a special needs student was sexually assaulted for 17 days on her school bus before it escalated to rape, and the driver notified the Fulton County School district.

“(She was) Stripped naked. On the bus,” said Lee Parks, one of the attorneys for the child’s family. "The bus driver, after the rape in a half-hearted attempt to report it, said he’d seen something. He didn’t say what.”

The alleged assaults occurred on a small school bus during a 17-day period last April. They involved two special needs boys and the 14-year-old victim. Her family’s attorneys liken her communication ability to that of a 5-year-old.

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Most of the alleged sexual assaults prior to the alleged raped are too graphic to report, but the involved forced touching and the exposure of private parts, according to Parks and attorneys M. Travis Foust and Brad Kaplan.

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Parks said the attorneys are seeking to view video and audio surveillance that was described to them by school officials during the course of an internal investigation.

The lawsuit noted that the victim’s medical examination was consistent with the allegations.

Parks said at some point prior to the assaults, the school system removed bus monitors from special needs buses for what they cited as “data-driven” reasons, interpreted by counsel to mean budgetary reasons.

“They put the monitor back,” Parks said.

“After this?” asked Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr.

“After this,” he replied.

In a statement to Channel 2 Action News, the Fulton County School system criticized the attorneys for talking to the media, while noting the sensitivity of the alleged events involving minors.

“The allegations in this complaint are extremely serious and concerning to the district,” the statement reads. “Because we are dealing with minor students, this is a particularly sensitive matter. We need to allow any ongoing investigations to be complete and 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. It is not appropriate.”

Details about what’s happened with the students and bus driver allegedly involved were not available amid the school system's ongoing investigation. Parks said the victim is back in school, but separated from the boys.

Parks said the lawsuit sends a message to parents.

“You want to know who your bus driver is,” Parks said. “You want to know whether they use monitors, and if not, ‘why not?’”