ACSD No. 1 settles in U.S. District Court case

Editor’s note: The Laramie Boomerang is not running the names of the family members who filed the suit in order to protect the identity of the underage victim.

A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court against Albany County School District No. 1 by a family arguing the school district could have done more to prevent the sexual assault of a first grader by a second grader was settled Feb. 12.

ACSD No. 1 was charged with violating of the Educational Amendments of 1972, Title IX, and three school district officials are charged with violating the plaintiff’s right of substantive due process pursuant to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

ACSD No. 1 superintendent Jubal Yennie said he could not discuss details of the settlement at this time, other than confirm a settlement was reached.

“Usually in these cases, it is best to resolve these matters,” Yennie said. “ACSD No. 1 agreed to a settlement and there is a favorable resolution.”

Prosecuting attorney Holli Welch could not comment on the case at this time and defense attorney John Coppede did not respond to a request for comment.

Court documents state while returning home from a field trip between February and March 2014, a student had the victim sit next to him and told her they were going to play a game and placed his coat over them.

The victim said she had to sit somewhere else but the student told her they were just playing a game and then grabbed her wrist and placed her hand in his pants and onto his genitals.

The student threatened the victim by saying if she told anyone, he would kill her father, court documents state.

The lawsuit alleges ACSD No. 1 officials knew the male student had a history of harassment and inappropriate sexual behavior toward female students. Before the incident occurred, the bus driver and at least one bus monitor knew of the student’s verbal and physical abuse of girls on the bus and reported it to the ACSD No. 1 Department of Transportation director at the time, the school’s principal, the victim’s teacher and the assistant superintendent at the time.

The bus driver attempted to stop the student’s behavior on several occasions and separated the student from other female students on the bus, according to court documents.

The harassment and misconduct to the victim was severe, pervasive and objectively offensive which allegedly gave the victim increasing anxiety and emotional distress, according to court documents.

The assault caused physical harm and pain to the victim and added to her emotional distress from constant anxiety the student would harm her father, court documents state.

According to court documents the victim’s interest in school declined and she feared riding the bus and attending classes and often attempted to avoid riding the bus or going to school. The victim also displayed heightened sexual behavior uncharacteristic of six year olds as a result of the incident.

Allegedly, the department of transportation director Randi Wilkinson advised on bus monitors and drivers to not report the student’s repeated misconduct for fears of targeting him. Allegedly, Wilkinson also told the monitors to destroy their notes and reports regarding the student.

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