Lawsuit alleges Lee’s Summit School District failed to report assault, retaliated against victim
LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — A lawsuit against the Lee’s Summit School District alleges the district failed to report an alleged rape on school grounds to authorities and that staff members retaliated against the victim.
The lawsuit, filed July 3, alleges a 14-year-old girl, referred to as Jane Doe in court documents, was raped in the boy’s bathroom at Bernard Campbell Middle School on Dec 1, 2017.
The suit also names the Board of Education and staff and Bernard Campbell Middle School as defendants.
The alleged attacker was a male student who had allegedly been suspended for sexually assaulting another student on school grounds two weeks earlier.
The student was suspended for five days. He was then allowed back onto school property and allowed to be alone with other students, according to the suit.
The lawsuit alleges the school failed to follow its own policies after the child reported the assault, never notified police and never promptly notified the Division of Family Services.
Mary Doe, the child’s mother, who is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said in court documents that Brett Jacobs, the assistant principal, told her that Jane Doe had “got herself raped.”
The school counselor, Colleen Schieber, also insisted to Jane Doe that her symptoms were all in her head and weren’t the result of sexual assault. She suggested the child could get over it if she would “face her fears,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit argues Superintendent Dennis Carpenter made race a factor by saying the case looked to him like a black boy was being punished and not a white girl.
An investigation into the incident determined that sexual contact occurred, but it didn’t conclude whether the contact was consensual or not.
When district employees concluded that Jane Doe was not the victim of assault, harassment or discrimination, based on the question of consent, she and her mother appealed the decision to Carpenter. The suit says he allegedly sided against them without hearing from the victim.
Jane Doe and her mother appealed that decision to the school board, who delayed the case for three months before determining it was just as likely that the child didn’t consent as it was that she did.
They denied the appeal, despite never having heard from Jane Doe herself, according to the suit.
The lawsuit also alleges the child was retaliated against when she was denied an opportunity to continue learning Spanish in a classroom that wasn’t next to her alleged attacker’s locker.
The lawsuit alleges violations of the Missouri Human Rights Act, negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress. It seeks punitive damages and a jury trial.
Carpenter resigned as superintendent Tuesday, 20 days after the lawsuit was filed. He said in a tweet that the lawsuit was not connected to his resignation.
The Lee’s Summit School District issued the following statement after the story aired on FOX4.
“The district disputes many of the factual allegations in this lawsuit. Due to student privacy laws though, the District cannot give its account of what happened in a news release. Instead, the district will defend itself and its employees in court.”