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Lawsuit accuses District 46 of negligence in sexual battery

Alleges District 46 officials failed to protect victim

Published: Saturday, April 26, 2014 10:46 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, April 28, 2014 6:49 a.m. CDT

PRAIRIE GROVE – District 46 officials did not call the police or take other action to protect a female student from being sexually battered by another student, a lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit was filed earlier this year by the mother of the girl against the school district, a school board member, a cafeteria worker and the male student, asking for more than $50,000 in damages on each count.

The lawsuit centers around two incidents that the complaint said happened in March and April 2012 and the actions that followed.

While on a school outing in March 2012, the male student approached the girl, whom the Northwest Herald is not identifying, from behind, grabbed her arms and then her breasts and chest with both hands, the complaint said.

During a gym class in April 2012, the boy pushed and shoved the girl while making “inappropriate sexual advances toward her and stating that he wanted to rape her,” the complaint said, charging that the boy committed battery, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress against the girl.

The case is still early in the process, said Gregory Waggoner, the attorney representing the male student.

Neither Waggoner nor the attorneys representing the other parties have filed responses to the complaint, although they have asked for extensions in filing their answers.

While District 46 officials were aware of both incidents, the complaint argues that officials did not contact the police or take any other action to protect the girl, and it accuses the district of negligent supervision.

The two students remained in the same gym classes even though it meant they would be in the gym at the same time, said Jamie Wombacher, the attorney representing the girl and her mother, who is identified as Kelly C-O.

The girl’s parents ended up calling the police and filing a report after the district did not, Wombacher said.

While Superintendent Lynette Zimmer directed all questions about the particulars of the lawsuit to the district’s attorneys, she said the district does not have a written policy on when to contact the police.

“It’s an administrative judgment call,” she said, adding that while drugs and weapons are “no-brainers,” student issues are more difficult because some are better solved by the school working with the student.

The complaint also accuses board member Tara Rand and district employee Tiffany Luri – and through them, the district – of slander for comments they made about the girl in the presence of a mutual friend of Rand and the girl’s mother following the board meeting.

The attorney representing the cafeteria worker, Robert M. Motta II, of Motta & Motta LLP, did not return a call for comment. The school district’s attorney, Darcy Kriha of Franczek Radelet Attorneys and Counselors, said the lawsuit was being handled by the district’s insurance company.

The district will be contesting the litigation, she said. The insurance company handles this type of litigation.

According to the complaint, Luri said the girl talked “explicitly” about various sexual activities, and Rand mentioned confidential information from the closed-door meeting with the girls’ parents, adding that the girl provoked the boy and that she “ruined” his family.

The girl, who is now in eighth grade, is in therapy and her family sold their Crystal Lake home and moved to Lake County because of the entire episode, Wombacher said.

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