Crime

North Texas school did not report sexual abuse of 6-year-old, family says in lawsuit

Child sexual abuse statistics in the United States

One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
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One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

A family says a North Texas school district did not report their child’s sexual abuse to police or Child Protective Services, allowing him to be abused again, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in June. The Greenville school district was served the lawsuit on Wednesday.

The Star-Telegram is not reporting the family members’ names in order to protect the minor’s identity. The child is referred to as John Doe in the lawsuit, which was filed in the Dallas Division of the Northern District of Texas court.

The family said their 6-year-old son attended a Greenville elementary school in 2018 and was sexually abused by another student.

Greenville ISD issued the following statement, signed by Superintendent Demetrus Liggins, in regards to the lawsuit: “We acknowledge that the lawsuit contains allegations that are upsetting to our teachers, staff, and to our community. GISD denies the allegations in this lawsuit and will vigorously defend against it. As the lawsuit progresses, GISD will be in a position to introduce evidence in court to refute the plaintiffs’ allegations. However, GISD cannot otherwise comment on pending litigation.”

The family says in the suit the boy was abused twice by the same student.

The first time the boy was abused, a faculty member walked into a bathroom and saw another student touching John Doe inappropriately, according to the lawsuit. When John Doe’s parents talked to school principal Stacey Kluttz the next day, she said she had heard nothing about the incident, the suit says.

John Doe’s parents also talked to the district’s assistant superintendent, Sharon Boothe. Boothe said she would immediately report the abuse to CPS and create a safety plan for John Doe, according to the suit.

However, John Doe’s parents said neither Boothe nor Kluttz contacted police at all or filed a report with CPS. Texas law requires any professional who suspects that a child is being abused to make a report to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services or any local or state law enforcement agency within 48 hours.

“Rather than take appropriate action, GISD engaged in a cover-up and (repeatedly) attempted to brush these shocking and abusive events under the proverbial rug,” the suit states.

Four months later, the same student sexually assaulted John Doe again in a bathroom, according to the suit. A teacher walked in and found John Doe with his pants down and chastised him, the suit says. Video footage showed the other student had left the bathroom shortly before the teacher walked in.

The next day, John Doe’s parents again talked to Kluttz, who told them, ”I’m sorry, I failed you,” according to the suit. Kluttz said she had not told local police about the abuse and could not provide documentation for John Doe’s written safety plan, a CPS report or any documents related to his abuse, according to the suit.

Greenville ISD’s policy manual states that anyone who has cause to believe that a child has been or may be abused shall make a report immediately as required by law.

In his statement, Liggins said the district “will continue to provide training to all staff on safety procedures and protocols, and we will continue to follow those processes.”

John Doe’s parents went to Greenville police, who started investigating. The suit says the school district asked police to end the investigation.

Police found the school district eventually filed a report to CPS, but the report did not include John Doe’s name or the name of the other student, instead claiming the students were unknown. This prevented CPS from investigating properly, the suits states.

“These sexual abuses have taken JOHN’s innocence from him and nothing can restore it,” the suit says. “JOHN is now facing years of recovery, battling feelings no six-year-old should have to face.”

The family is asking for unspecified compensatory damages and that Greenville district school faculty undergo training on reporting sexual abuse.

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Kaley Johnson is a breaking news and enterprise reporter. She majored in investigative reporting at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has a passion for bringing readers in-depth, complex stories that will impact their lives. Send your tips via email or Twitter.
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