The Alhambra Unified School District has agreed to pay $750,000 to settle a lawsuit brought on behalf of a girl, now 11 years old, who was allegedly bullied by male third-graders at her elementary school in 2019 and sexually abused by one of them in a restroom.
Lawyers for the plaintiff, identified only as Jane Doe of Monterey Park in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, filed court papers on June 16 with Judge Jill Feeney seeking approval of the accord during a hearing set for July 13.
Lawyers for the district argued that Doe “did not take reasonable precautions to avoid or reduce her alleged damages.”
The suit filed in May 2020 alleges that in fall 2019, the girl was regularly bullied by a group of male fellow third-grade students at Garfield Elementary. The boys’ alleged behavior escalated over time even after the girl’s parents complained to the school administration and staff, the suit alleges.
During school hours, a group of the male students allegedly ordered her to choose who among them she preferred to have sex with, threatening to make her “twerk” on a lunch table if she did not decide, the suit alleges.
“Confused and not understanding what sex or twerking was, Jane Doe told the boys she picked her mom,” the suit states.
The boys responded by mocking, berating, harassing and embarrassing the girl, the suit states.
After learning what happened to her daughter, the girl’s mother contacted the school administration and joined Doe’s father in meeting with the staff in October 2019, with both asking that their daughter not be allowed to play with one of the boys who had harassed the plaintiff, the suit says.
But that same month, the girl was “viciously attacked” and pushed down some stairs, according to the suit, which says she was taken to a hospital and diagnosed with a concussion.
The girl’s mother again contacted the school, told the staff what happened and said she did not feel her daughter was safe if allowed to interact with the boys allegedly accosting her, the suit states.
Doe and her mother, as well as the principal, subsequently signed an AUSD growth achievement plan stating there would be no further contact between the plaintiff and the group of boys, according to the suit.
None of the boys was suspended or disciplined as a result of their behavior and nothing was done by the school administration or staff “to stop the systematic bullying and sexual harassment” of the girl, the suit alleges.
One of the boys used the conflict to confuse the plaintiff and pretend to act as her protector, manipulating her into spending time with him while at the same time demeaning and bullying her, according to the suit. During a school lunch break, the girl was in a restroom when the boy walked in and ordered her to open the stall door, telling her “that they were going to have sex,” the suit states.
The boy later warned the girl that if she told anyone, “she would go to jail,” the suit alleges.
Over the next two days, the boy forced the girl to go with him to the girls’ restroom three times and on two occasions sexually abused her, according to the complaint.
The girl became withdrawn and visibly upset, yet the school staff failed to learn of the sexual abuses or prevent the boy from going into the restroom with the girl, the suit states.
After seeing some “alarming changes in her daughter,” the mother spoke with the girl, who told her about the alleged sexual abuse. The mother called police, who went to the school and spoke with the girl.
The suit alleges that Doe suffered a traumatic brain injury and that she has dealt with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, learning difficulties, difficulty focusing and mood swings since the alleged bullying and sexual abuse.