The mother of a five-year-old girl has filed a lawsuit against the Richmond School District One, located in Columbia, South Carolina, claiming that her daughter was sexually and physically assaulted by another student while on the school bus, according to court documents.
The incidents reportedly occurred in February of this year. The mother stated in the lawsuit that an older male student revealed his private parts to her daughter and attempted to force her to perform a sexual act on him. The lawsuit also claims that at least two other incidents followed, which were discovered during the school district’s review of security bus video footage.
The girl was sitting at the front of the bus, one seat away from the driver, when the incidents occurred, according to the lawsuit.
In one of the incidents, the older male student reportedly attempted to pull the victim’s head towards his lap, while she struggled against him. The lawsuit states that video footage shows the older male student invading the girl’s personal space, pressing his body up against her, as well as the victim raising her hand and telling the driver that the boy had touched her.
The girl’s mother and attorney stated in the lawsuit that the older male student should have been seated in the back of the bus, away from the younger students. The lawsuit claims “negligence” and seeks relief for associated medical costs, court fees, and other penalties, including compensation in return for severe emotional trauma.
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“Children should be safe and secure from sexual assault, violence, and harassment while traveling to school on school buses. Furthermore, parents should feel comfortable knowing that their children are in a safe environment while outside of their care traveling on school buses,” Tyler Bailey, attorney for the victim, said in a statement as reported by WBTV. “Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for my 5-year old client, and her mother is traumatized about the sexual assault and harassment her daughter was frequently forced to endure within a few feet of her bus driver.”
School Transportation News reached out to Richland County School District One district for further comment. The district responded that it is unable to comment at this report on the pending legislation.