Suit: Shawnee Mission School District failed to report allegatio - KCTV5 News

Suit: Shawnee Mission School District failed to report allegations before assault

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The girl says the assault happened earlier this year in a study hall classroom at Westridge Middle School. (KCTV5) The girl says the assault happened earlier this year in a study hall classroom at Westridge Middle School. (KCTV5)

Officials in the Shawnee Mission School District failed to report sexual assault allegations against a boy to law enforcement before he assaulted a girl at an Overland Park middle school, according to a federal lawsuit.

The boy's school records contain reports from three other female students about similar assaults, according to the suit filed Monday. But the suit says none of the reports were provided to authorities before the plaintiff's daughter alleges that she was assaulted. The girl says the assault happened earlier this year in a study hall classroom at Westridge Middle School.

She was "shocked and frightened" and "froze and was unable to immediately react," according to the suit. The suit names several current and former school and district officials as defendants.

The lawsuit filed Monday in district court claims the school district knew of at least three other encounters with female students that had all been sexually assaulted. It says all those complaints were brought to the attention of Westridge Middle School prior to this past December, but the district chose not to report them to law enforcement authorities.

The suit said the assault resulted in the boy being suspended from school for 10 days, although he was allowed to count non-school days during spring break toward the period of suspension. The girl had previously been suspended for an unrelated event and had not been allowed to do that, according to the suit.

The lawsuit says there was never an offer of any counseling or another type of mental health services offered to the victim.

The Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault couldn’t go into specifics about the case but say that when a child comes forward, how they are helped is critical in how they’re able to move forward.

“So, if they are met with disbelief or people questioning them, they're going to shut down and they're not going to talk anymore because they're going to be embarrassed. Think it was their fault, feel like they aren't supported or believed. So it's just critical that we start, with every child or adult, that we start by believing what they have to say,” said Julie Donelon with MOCSA.

The lawsuit says the district and school administrators didn’t address the prior problems effectively, leading to this victim’s run-in with the suspect saying by failing to properly address, investigate and remedy the prior incidents and fostered and promoted the additional assault.

“It's critical when individuals come forward and they share that they've been sexually abused or assaulted, that that information is reported appropriately to the appropriate officials, be it law enforcement, child protective services, because if not we're missing an opportunity not only to safeguard that individual, that child, but also to protect additional victims in the future," Donelon said.

The Shawnee Mission School District issued the following statement on Tuesday:

“The district has not been served with any legal documents on this inquiry.

We can say, without reservation, that the investigation determined these allegations have been deemed untrue and inaccurate. The district cannot comment any further, however we look forward to presenting the accurate information at the proper time and place.”

In Kansas, school employees are considered mandated reporters, required by law to report the suspected physical or sexual abuse of children. The failure to do so is a misdemeanor, which can result in a $1,000 fine or six months in jail.

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