Lawsuit Alleges Sexual Assault At Charter School
Legislative Session Coverage
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Downtown Miami Charter School knew that a seven year-old student was being bullied and sexually abused by an 11 year-old student and failed to prevent it from recurring. That is the gist of a lawsuit filed Monday in Miami-Dade circuit court on behalf of “John Doe,” the alleged seven year-old victim.
“What happened to my son is terrible, and no parent or child should ever have to face what I faced,” the boy’s mother said at an afternoon news conference. “They failed. They failed to give my son proper protection.
According to the lawsuit the second grader was being bullied on the school bus, operated by Carmen Alvarez Bus Service, a private school bus company. The boy told his mother about the bullying, and she spoke to the bus driver. The bullying continued however, according to the lawsuit, and in November, 2011, the fifth grader allegedly forced the younger boy to perform a sex act on him on the school bus.
The boy told his mother about the sexual abuse several weeks later when she continued to press him about his withdrawn, depressed behavior.
The mother told Principal Rebecca Dinda about the incident. Dinda notified DCF and the police. The lawsuit alleges that the principal assured the mother the two boys would be separated and closely monitored.
According to the lawsuit, the bullying continued, and the younger boy was sexually abused by the older boy twice more in a school bathroom.
“A school has a duty to prevent what is called foreseeable harm from occurring to its students,” said attorney Jeffrey Herman who represents John Doe. “In this case we’re alleging that the school failed miserably.”
The boy’s mother said her son twice tried to commit suicide after the bullying and sexual abuse; once by throwing himself into a moving lane of traffic, and again by sticking a wire clothes hanger into an electrical outlet.
“My child has mental issues that will last throughout his life,” the mother said.
The Miami police department’s special victims unit was unable to gather adequate evidence to bring a charge in the alleged school bus attack, but continues to investigate the subsequent reports of sex abuse.
Both the alleged victim and the accused bully and sex offender are undergoing psychological counseling. Both will attend different schools in the coming year.
Principal Rebecca Dinda declined to comment for this report.
Jama Dock, a spokesperson for Charter Schools USA, the company that operates the school, told CBS4 News, “The safety and security of students is the top priority of Charter Schools USA.” Not having seen the lawsuit, Dock declined further comment.