Lawsuit claims Fulton County special needs student was stripped naked, raped on bus

An attorney says it was only after the driver spoke up that the district added a bus monitor.

The family of a Fulton County Schools student with special needs has filed a lawsuit against the district alleging their child was repeatedly sexually assaulted and eventually raped on her school bus.

According to the lawsuit, the alleged abuse took place over a 17-day period last April while the 14-year-old girl was driven to and from her middle school.

Lee Parks, the girl’s attorney, called the abuse “horrific” and said at least two other students removed the girl’s clothes and forced her to perform sex acts.

The assaults, he said, took place in three or four rows of the small special needs bus.

“The abuse was allowed to continue until it culminated in the rape of the victim, during which she was stripped naked by the perpetrator,” Parks said. “It was only then the bus driver finally reported that ‘he had noticed something’ on the bus without noting the sexual abuse specifically.”

The student, identified only as “Jane Doe” in the federal lawsuit, has mental and physical disabilities, and functions at a “cognitive and communicative level far below her actual age.”

Parks told Channel 2 Action News on Thursday that the student has the mental faculties of a 5-year-old.

Attorneys said district officials have not released the surveillance video, but that the assaults were confirmed through the district’s investigation and a subsequent medical examination of the child.

The lawsuit claims the abuse began shortly after Fulton County Schools removed a bus monitor from the route, leaving the students with only the driver.

“The bus driver in this case was completely derelict in his duties and repeatedly exhibited a willful and deliberate indifference to maintaining student discipline and ensuring student safety,” the lawsuit alleges.

After the sexual assault allegations surfaced, Parks said the district put a monitor back on the school bus.

In a statement, a district spokesperson called the allegations “extremely serious and concerning” to the school system.

“Because we are dealing with minor students, this is a particularly sensitive matter,” the statement said. “We need to allow any ongoing investigations to be complete and respect the privacy of all students allegedly involved. We look forward to the case being adjudicated through the legal process, not by attempting to make legal gains with press statements and grandstanding. It is not appropriate.”

ExploreThis story was first reported by Channel 2 Action News.

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