Girl claims SW Mo. district failed to protect her

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A special education student has alleged in a lawsuit that officials at her former southwest Missouri middle school made her write a letter of apology to a boy after she accused him of raping her and that he later attacked her again.

The Springfield News-Leader (http://bit.ly/p61ieb ) reported that a suit seeking unspecified damages was filed last month against the Republic School District and several employees. In a court filing, the district denied the allegations and described the claims as frivolous.

The suit says school officials didn’t believe the girl when she reported she had been harassed, assaulted and raped during the 2008-09 school. After she recanted, she was forced to hand-deliver the letter of apology to the boy and was expelled for the year, the suit said.

The boy allegedly continued to harass and assault the girl when she returned the following year, but the suit alleged the girl feared she would be accused of lying if she went to school officials. The girl said she was raped again in the school’s library in February 2010 and that school officials were again skeptical.

This time, the suit said, the girl’s mother took her to the Child Advocacy Center and an exam showed a sexual assault had occurred. The suit also said that DNA testing linked semen found on the girl to the boy whom she accused of attacking her.

The News Leader reported that despite the finding of the Advocacy Center, the school suspended the girl for disrespectful conduct and public display of affection. Meanwhile, the suit said, the boy was taken into custody in Juvenile Court and pleaded guilty to charges that aren’t specified in the suit.

“School Officials acted recklessly in conscious disregard of and with deliberate indifference to the risk of (the girl’s) safety by failing to conduct an investigation into her allegations of rape and sexual assault, by suspending her from school, and by failing to provide her with any protection from her rapist,” the suit says.

Greene County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Casey Clark said he learned only Monday night of the allegations in the lawsuit that the Republic School District may have violated mandated reporting laws. The suit claimed that school officials failed to report the girl’s complaints to the proper authorities.

“We requested reports from the Republic police department so that we can review them in light of the allegations that have been made in this lawsuit and see if there has been any wrongdoing,” said Clark.

The district said in its response that the defendants acted in good faith and that any damages the girl may have suffered, “were as a result of the negligence, carelessness, or conduct of third parties over whom the District Defendants had neither control nor the right to control.”

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com

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