YAKIMA — The parents of a 8-year-old girl with Down syndrome are suing Yakima School District No. 7 for allegedly failing to stop a disabled 5th grade boy from repeatedly sexually and physically abusing the girl while the two rode a school bus.
The lawsuit, filed by the Tamaki Law Offices in Yakima, alleges the girl was repeatedly assaulted from Sept. 2013 until March of 2014. The assaults allegedly ranged in duration from several minutes to 15 minutes each, and were often filmed by a school bus camera. The suit alleges both the bus driver and the school district were negligent, and failed to supervise its students properly.
According to the lawsuit, the abuse — which occurred on a special needs bus — included, “punching, pinching, scratching, hitting, slapping” and multiple sexual assaults. The abuse was reported on March 27 when the girl arrived home with bruises and deep scratches on her face. The family notified the school, who allegedly discovered the abuse had been happening for months. The bus driver was put on leave and the suspected perpetrator, an 11-year-old boy who also has severe disabilities, was immediately expelled.
According to police documents, the boy allegedly sat next to the victim every day. In at least one video, police said, the boy was allegedly seen manipulating the girl “like a doll,” putting her face in his lap, grabbing her crotch and kissing her.
Other children allegedly noticed the abuse, documents show, and told the boy to stop. However, he usually ignored or could not understand their requests.
The lawsuit seeks an unknown amount in damages.
The school district declined to comment on the suit when asked by the Yakima Herald:
“We don’t, as a district, respond to media requests related to active litigation,” said Jennifer Baird in the Yakima superintendent’s office. She said she would look into what action has been taken with the bus driver.