A lawsuit against the Fulton County School District alleges a school bus driver allowed students to abuse and eventually rape a girl with physical and cognitive disabilities
A 14-year-old girl in Fulton County, Georgia, was allegedly subject to weeks of escalating sexual abuse from other students on her bus, ultimately ending with her being raped. Her family’s lawsuit alleges the bus driver willfully ignored the students’ misconduct, and chose not to intervene until after the rape.
The girl’s mother sued the Fulton County School District in federal court last week. In the lawsuit, the 14-year-old girl, who is called Jane Doe to protect her privacy, is described as having “a sweet and innocent young child-like nature due to her cognitive and communicative deficiencies.”
“She has and continues to have neurodevelopmental disabilities that impede and limit her physical and mental capabilities. Doe functions at a cognitive and communicative level far below her actual age,” the lawsuit reads, adding that the girl “struggles to interact with and clearly communicate with other individuals and to express her feelings and protect herself in potentially dangerous interactions with other people.”
Doe rode a school bus with other students with disabilities, where, according to the lawsuit, she was first assaulted April 4, 2019. She then allegedly experienced escalating daily assaults from male students who were reportedly emboldened by the lack of intervention from any adults, until she was raped on April 20. Her family says the bus driver actively allowed the assaults to happen, and didn’t report anything until the girl was raped, at which point he told a supervisor he “saw something.”
At that point, school officials told Jane Doe’s mother what the bus driver had reported. She took the girl to a doctor, who confirmed that she had been raped.
The lawsuit also says there’s no way the bus driver didn’t know what was happening — the bus Jane Doe rode was smaller than a standard school bus, with only three or four rows of seats. The bus is also equipped with video monitoring. School officials have, so far, refused to turn over video from the days Jane Doe was allegedly being assaulted.
“The multiple acts of sexual assault and rape over a period of almost two weeks could not have taken place without the knowledge and/or deliberate indifference of the Bus driver, who never once intervened to protect Doe and report Students A and B to FCSD and the police,” the complaint reads.
In a statement to the New York Times, the school district said the bus driver was “separated immediately” from his position after the abuse was first reported.