SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Savannah-Chatham County Public School System is at the center of a civil suit.
The lawsuit claims the district didn’t do enough to keep a 10-year-old student from being raped on a school bus back in 2017.
WTOC received a copy of the court filing that details the accusations and the events that the victim’s attorney says should have never happened. The lawsuit revolves around a bus ride in the fall of 2017. Savannah Attorney Paul Painter says when his client, who was 10-years-old at the time, was riding the bus home from Coastal Georgia Comprehensive Academy, the child was raped by a 16-year old student.
According to the lawsuit, the incident was recorded by a bus camera.
The victim's mother told the school what happened, and police came to the school to investigate.
The court filing includes the Board of Education police report as an exhibit, and in that report, the officer wrote that the school’s principal pulled the bus camera video and noticed some inappropriate sexual behavior among the students.
According to the suit, there were three students on the bus at the time, as well as a bus monitor and driver.
“It’s about the whole picture of what happened that day, and how did it come to happen, and why weren’t things done differently? These are questions that not only the family has, but everybody in town should be asking of, how did this come to happen? How was this allowed to happen on a school bus with three children and two adults? It should never have happened," Painter said.
Painter explained what the family hopes the lawsuit will achieve.
“Two things are behind it. First and foremost, we want to obtain justice for our client. This boy and his family have been through a terrible event, and it is going to affect him the rest of his life. The second part is, they don’t want this to happen to another child,” he said.
The bus driver and monitor were fired shortly after the incident.
WTOC reached out to the school district for comment, and they sent this statement:
“SCCPSS investigated the allegation of a sexual assault on a school bus that occurred in the fall of 2017 and took appropriate administrative actions related to the case. The investigation in this matter remains open and has been referred to Juvenile Court. The Savannah-Chatham County Public School District makes every effort to keep all children safe at school and on the bus to include the use of video surveillance technology, school bus monitors, and safety training. The Board’s legal team will review the suit carefully and will respond appropriately. Due to the pending legal matters and additional legal requirements, including those under FERPA, no additional information will be provided regarding this matter."
The district, bus driver, and monitor have 30 days to respond to the summons. The attorney has also requested evidence, including the bus camera video, as they move forward with the discovery phase.