HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. — A woman has filed a civil lawsuit against the Mt. Vernon Community School District and two other families after claiming her daughter was sexually assaulted on a school bus during the 2022-23 school year.
The lawsuit brought forward four different claims, including negligence of the school, negligence of the two families, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit was reportedly filed in mid-September in Hancock County Superior Court 1.
According to the documents, the girl was reportedly sexually assaulted by multiple students on a school bus multiple times. The lawsuit claimed that emotional trauma continued through harassment, bullying, and verbal assaults while under care and supervision by the school.
The lawsuit stated after reporting her sexual assault to the office, the girl was asked to complete an “incident report.” Neither the school nor the school corporation reported the sexual assault of the girl to any law enforcement agency despite the mandate.
The following day, the girl and the other students were called to the office to discuss the allegations made in the incident report. The lawsuit revealed that after speaking with all the students involved, they were sent to the bus to ride home together.
While forced to ride home with her assailants, the child was reportedly verbally harassed, intimidated, frightened, and emotionally distressed.
The lawsuit also revealed that the school has a history and practice of failing to meet its requirements as mandated and, in addition, had a history of such failings well before the two sexual assaults on the girl.
Maria Bond, the Director of Community Relations for Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation, provided the following statement on Monday afternoon:
“Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation adhered to appropriate and timely procedures in responding to a student’s May 2023 report of inappropriate behavior by two other students on a district school bus.
Based on the report provided to the school at the time the incident was reported, it is our understanding the events at issue took place on May 16 and 17, not May 2 and 3 as cited in the legal complaint filed against the school district on September 20. The incident was reported to law enforcement at the time the school learned of the conduct. The investigation with law enforcement revealed two 6th-grade students behaved in a highly inappropriate manner. Those students received significant punitive and preventive consequences at school. The school was advised that the Fortville Police Department completed its investigation and forwarded that to the prosecutor’s office.
As a mandatory reporter, the school corporation understands and takes seriously our duty to report suspected child abuse or neglect. This incident was reported to law enforcement. It is for law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office to determine if the alleged conduct should be referred for prosecution for sexual assault.
Additionally, it is unfortunate this lawsuit was filed without allowing the school the requisite 90 days to respond to the tort claim. Instead of being able to address this matter prior to the litigation, the School will now answer the complaint as required by the Court.”MVCSC