The Oregon School for the Deaf is the target of a lawsuit alleging that a male student sexually abused a younger female student while the two were in the school's care. The woman who filed the claim, the student's mother, contends that school staff, employees with the school's contracted bus company and officials with the Oregon Department of Education are responsible for failing to stop the reported abuse. The lawsuit seeks approximately $4 million in damages.
According to the lawsuit, the victim experienced repeated sexual harassment from the older student. She was 11 years old at the time of the alleged abuse, which the plaintiff asserts occurred in the school's old administrative building and pool. Additionally, the victim reported that she and the older student engaged in explicit sexual activity on the bus on several occasions. The plaintiff claims to have contacted the bus company and school, receiving promises of better supervision and meetings with administrators. However, she contends that neither the school nor the bus company ultimately took action to prevent the harassment.
The plaintiff argues that in allowing the abuse to occur, the school failed to abide by a policy requiring staff to separate student of opposite sexes and closely monitor their behavior when they are in close proximity. She also accuses the school of repeatedly failing to respond to the alleged abuse despite multiple phone calls and complaints spanning several weeks.
The reported harassment ultimately led to the girl being sent to a counselor for evaluation. The counselor recommended that the girl enter a mental health treatment facility for intensive psychiatric care for the severe effects she experienced from the alleged abuse. The lawsuit states the girl continues to suffer from serious anxiety, depression, humiliation and general emotional distress.
Oregon's civil litigation system allows individuals like the plaintiff to pursue justice for offenses that do not receive attention within the criminal court system. Likewise, the appeals process gives defendants the chance to contest the court's decision and submit the case for a higher court to review.
StatesmanJournal.com, "Oregon School for the Deaf sued over alleged sex abuse" Joce DeWitt, Sep. 13, 2013