Carlson Law Firm Partner Helps Sexual Abuse Victim Hold School District Accountable
No child should be exposed to sexual abuse and assault. But one young girl represented by The Carlson Law Firm became the target of repeated sexual abuse and sexual assault at a school in the Killeen Independent School District. On what became a near daily basis, boys in the school began touching the child’s breasts or slapping her buttocks. Like so many victims of sexual crimes, she endured the unwanted groping in relative silence.
From time to time, our brave young client rebuffed the harassment from boys in the school, but it didn’t deter them. Instead, she was met with ridicule and determination to continue the offending acts. When she finally had enough of the unrelenting abuse, she complained to school officials. However, despite the egregious unwanted sexual acts committed against her, no investigation or action from the school was forthcoming.
As a result of the school’s inaction, our client eventually told her father about the abuse. Her father contacted school officials in hopes that they might take the situation more serious coming from a student’s parent. Yet, the school took no action to protect the young girl’s safety and comfort on school premises.
School officials described the young girl’s situation as “playground games” and told her father that “boys will be boys.” At The Carlson Law Firm, we believe that these are two extremely harmful philosophies that are detrimental to the well-being of young girls. These ideas, planted at an early enough age, can leave women vulnerable to accepting bad behavior from men.
Predictably, the acts that the school deemed playful turned vicious. This young girl suffered a broken clavicle after she was physically assaulted on the playground. Still, school officials turned a blind eye to this brazen assault of the student.
For three years, our client experienced unrelenting sexual harassment and abuse from male students. By the time she reached eighth grade, she and her parents had already reported the harassment to teachers, counselors, vice principals, principals and even the superintendent – on multiple occasions. Her father filed six separate reports alleging six different incidents where his daughter and other girls were harassed.
Sexual harassment had become a part of our client’s daily routine. Instead of taking the shortest route to class, she took the long way around campus to avoid the predictable sexual harassment. The effects of the repeated abuse began to take its toll on her. She began to suffer from anxiety at school and stopped participating in wholesome after-school activities like cheerleading. Her grades began to fall.
It is important to note that during this time, sexual harassment had become totally embedded in the culture of the school. Days of the week had corresponding nicknames to denote how young women would be harassed. “Touch-Titty Tuesday,” “Hump Wednesday,” “Twerk Thursday” and “Slap-Butt Friday” were just some of the inappropriate activities taking place beginning in the middle school. It was clear that the staff knew about these days and the names given to them, but, still, they did nothing to remedy the sexual harassment of female students.
After several snubs from school officials, the student’s father reached out to a local media outlet to draw attention to the school and school district’s inaction. The school district’s apathetic response to sexual assault put the district and its administrators under harsh scrutiny.
Unfortunately, this created more problems than it solved for both the student and her father.
The young woman was branded a “snitch” by fellow students and the bullying worsened. The bullying became so severe that she and her siblings were forced to switch schools for their own safety. For unknown reasons, within a few months of her transfer, the student’s main antagonist transferred into her new school, in the same district. He kept up the pattern of harassment, sexual assault and bullying.
Sadly, the new school’s staff was just as indifferent to these assaults as the previous school. In an attempt to silence the family, school officials actually called the police on the father when he was just trying to do his job as a father—protect his daughter. Instead of trying to help her, Killeen I.S.D. then made unwarranted allegations to Child Protective Services about the father’s parenting when our client began a form of self-mutilation known as cutting (likely a response to the sexual assaults that she was forced to endure). Though these allegations were eventually proven false, they were devastating to this single father who was trying to protect his daughter from the neglect of the very people who accused him. Rather than make any effort to remedy the rampant bullying in their school and protect the victims, our client’s father was told not to bring his daughter back to school until he took her to “get help.”
Get help he did.
Enter Carlson Law Firm Attorney Todd Kelly. After listening to the family’s story, he began working on a plan to help this family and other student victims in the district. He filed a lawsuit against the district describing specific unwanted sexual acts that victimized his young client. The suit detailed several instances where the school district was told about the sexual harassment and sexual abuse in significant detail, yet remained indifferent to the situation of its female students. The suit called for the school district to implement anti-bullying policies and harassment programs.
After years of indifference from every level of the Texas school district, Attorney Todd Kelly helped the family reach a settlement. The school district was forced to pay several hundred thousand dollars for their indifference.
Because of the settlement, the family was able to move out of Killeen I.S.D. They now live in an area where they are treated better. Most importantly, our client is thriving in school again. Fortunately for this family, a compassionate team of lawyers was able to help.
The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
You send your children to school to learn. You trust the officials at your child’s school to prioritize the safety of the children in their care. No student should endure what this young girl did. Sexual assault and abuse take a toll on our children. This is especially the case when those charged with protecting them turn a blind eye. But you don’t have to go through it alone. The Carlson Law Firm is ready to assist you in seeking the justice you deserve. Our compassionate, hard-hitting legal team is here and cares about helping you.
- Written by Kazia Conway