The parents of a 7-year-old girl are suing the Pickens County School District after they said their daughter was sexually assaulted by another student on a school bus — and the school district failed to help.
The lawsuit filed in federal court on Sept. 20 claims that the girl was sexually assaulted on Oct. 18, 2016, during a bus ride to McKissick Elementary School. A 7-year-old boy pulled down the girl’s pants and attempted to perform a sex act on her, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint states that the school district was grossly negligent in how it handled the case, saying administrators blamed the girl.
Following the encounter, the lawsuit says that the school district waited three days to inform the girl’s parents of what happened. The bus driver was never reprimanded and the male student was never disciplined, the lawsuit says.
The school district has not filed a formal response to the lawsuit.
According to the plaintiffs, a school administrator interrogated the girl alone in a room and blamed her for the sexual assault. The girl was also not offered to see a guidance counselor until three weeks later, the suit states.
“Our number one goal is to make sure this little girl is taken care of,” said Joshua Slavin, a Charleston-based attorney representing the child and her family. “We want to make sure the school understands that they’ve got to do better in the future.”
John Eby, a spokesman for the school district, said the school district has received the complaint and referred it to attorneys. “Both of the children involved in the alleged incident were 7 years old,” Eby said in an email. “Given the extremely sensitive nature of the allegations, our response to the complaints listed in the suit will be made during legal proceedings by our legal counsel.”
All school district employees are trained in how to correctly respond to reports of sexual assault, Eby said.
“We are committed to the safety of every one of our students whenever they are in our care,” he said.
The girl missed school to attend therapy and later transferred out of McKissick after ongoing bullying, teasing and re-trauma from the sexual assault, Slavin said. She continues to struggle with regressive behaviors and problems, the lawsuit says.
“Thank God the parents had the wherewithal and foresight. They got her into therapy immediately,” Slavin said. “This is serious. This isn’t just a one-off incident and she’s fine now. She’s still dealing with this.”
Slavin said he is concerned there may be others who have been victimized by sexual assault and have received improper handling by the school district. He’s asking others to contact him at email@example.com.