Local News

Tuesday, Oct 30 2012 08:02 PM

Parents of alleged assault victim take KHSD to court

BY COURTENAY EDELHART Californian staff writer cedelhart@bakersfield.com

A jury trial is scheduled for Nov. 26 in the case of an autistic teenager with the intellect of a small child who allegedly was raped by a classmate in a bathroom at Independence High School.

The girl's parents are suing the Kern High School District in Kern County Superior Court, alleging the school didn't immediately notify them that their daughter had been assaulted, and didn't report the attack to authorities as required by law until the parents called the Bakersfield Police Department themselves.

The parents told KGET Channel 17 that criminal charges were never filed because of the age of the students and the lack of anyone to confirm an assault had taken place.

The Californian isn't naming the parents nor their daughter per its general policy against identifying the alleged victims of sexual assault.

The Kern High School District's attorney, Leonard Herr, did not respond to several requests for an interview.

The girl was a 16-year-old 10th-grader at the time of the alleged Oct. 15, 2009, incident but had the intellectual capacity of a 4-year-old, according to a civil complaint filed in September 2010.

The girl was attacked at about 11 a.m., and afterward the school allowed her to finish out her regular school day and even attend an after-school program, not telling her parents what had happened to her until more than five hours later, according to the complaint.

The girl was assaulted in a bathroom adjacent to a special education classroom where a teacher's aide walked in on them after he heard screaming, according to the lawsuit. Both children were naked from the waist down and the then-15-year-old boy was clutching the girl's hips from behind, according to the lawsuit.

The parents declined a request from The Californian for an interview, but their attorney, Ralph Wegis, said the girl is still traumatized.

"Childhood sexual assault is a life-altering event," he said. "It can have lifelong consequences, and she suffers from just those consequences."

The lawsuit contends that the school should have more closely supervised the boy, "a troubled special education student having had prior difficulties and/or complaints concerning similar conduct with others."

It seeks unspecified damages and legal costs.

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