Parents claim school covered up sex abuse

KING 5 NEWS

January 16, 2015

PUYALLUP, Wash. -- The parents of two special needs children in the Puyallup School District believe their children may have been assaulted in a school bathroom, and the elementary school staff covered it up for nearly a year.

In a $3 million tort claim filed with the district, the parents say they were not told that a sexually aggressive student in their kid's class had been suspected of inappropriately touching students.

One eight-year-old boy was using the toilet in November of 2013 in a bathroom at Ridgecrest Elementary School. A teacher found another boy standing right next to him in the bathroom. School records say when the boy was asked what he was doing, he replied, "I touched his private parts and his butt. That's just a joke. I touched his penis."

School records show that later that same day he "grabbed a staff members' (sic) breasts and refused to let go. Double fisted grab." The next day he "grabbed a staff member between her legs in her groin area while she was bending over."

The mother of the eight-year-old autistic boy in the toilet incident says she was never told about the problem student, until a phone call from the school nearly one year later.

"I was crying. I was really sad. My son is special needs. He can't talk. He can't tell me what happened in school," said the mother. She asked not to be identified to protect the identity of her now nine-year-old son.

Attorney Julie Kays, a former King County sexual assault prosecutor, filed the claim on behalf of the two families, saying that the school district failed to protect their children and did not call authorities as required by law.

A spokesman for the Puyallup School District said word of the incidents did not reach the district level until a new principal arrived at Ridgecrest Elementary this year.

Brian Fox says an investigation is underway to determine why the allegations of sex abuse were not acted upon sooner by school staff.

But he says a separate investigation this fall determined suspicions that there was any sexual touching by one of the students was "unsubstantiated."

By Chris Ingalls

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