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A young girl, now 11 years old, and her guardian have filed a $9 million lawsuit against an Oregon nonprofit organization, Portland Public Schools, and Multnomah County, alleging negligence in an incident where male classmates sexually abused and raped her at school and during an after-school program when she was in the third grade. The lawsuit details multiple instances of nonconsensual sexual touching during school hours, including one incident where the girl hit a male classmate in the face to protect herself and was subsequently suspended along with her attacker. In the month following, she was raped by two male students in a bathroom stall during an after-school program, which was only reported after one of the perpetrators’ parents heard about it from their child.

The lawsuit accuses the school and after-school program of failing to immediately notify law enforcement about the assault and instead conducted an internal investigation. It alleges that the school district personnel interviewed the girl without informing law enforcement or her parents about the sexual assault or the interview itself. Following the incident, the two male students were suspended for just one day and were allowed to remain in school with a safety plan, leading the girl’s father to enroll both her and her younger brother in another public school, causing them to miss almost a month of schooling.

Portland Public Schools is accused of negligence for not recognizing the plaintiff’s vulnerabilities and the potential for continued sexual assault by male students. The lawsuit claims that the school district failed to adequately train students on appropriate sexual boundaries and how to report abuse, as well as making the plaintiff feel that she would be reprimanded if she protected herself from unwanted sexual contact. It also alleges that the school system did not report the student’s vulnerabilities to after-school program staff or train employees to monitor, recognize, and report child sex abuse.

Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that Latino Network and Multnomah County were negligent for not maintaining awareness of students during the after-school program and failing to adequately train employees to monitor, recognize, and report child sexual grooming and abuse. Portland Public Schools has stated that they are investigating the new allegations brought forth in the lawsuit and are required to report any possible instances of child abuse and neglect to the Oregon Department of Human Services. Multnomah County declined to comment on the pending litigation, while Latino Network expressed that they take the allegations seriously and are working with legal counsel to address the situation.

The lawsuit, filed on March 20 in Circuit Court in Multnomah County, seeks $9 million in damages for the trauma and harm caused to the young girl. The case shines a spotlight on the responsibilities of schools and after-school programs to protect students from sexual abuse and ensure that proper training and reporting mechanisms are in place to prevent such incidents from occurring. The outcome of the lawsuit will be closely monitored as it unfolds in court, potentially leading to changes in policies and practices within educational institutions to better safeguard students from such traumatic experiences.

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