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5-year-old girl frequently sexually assaulted on Columbia school bus, lawsuit claims

The lawsuit said the incidents happened aboard a Richland School District One bus.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The mother of a five-year-old girl is suing Richland School District One after she says her daughter was frequently sexually assaulted on a school bus.

The civil suit was filed by the mom and her attorney, Tyler Bailey, against the district on October 8.  The little girl was a student at Brennan Elementary. 

"Defendant [Richland One] owed a common law duty to protect the minor child from harm, including sexual assault, while she was under their care," the lawsuit states. 

According to the suit, the incidents happened in February of 2020. The document claims that on February 21, her daughter told her an older male student--the lawsuit does not make clear his age--exposed his private parts to the girl. The suit claims the boy then tried to make her perform a sex act on him. 

The mother said she reported the incident to Brennan Elementary on February 24. She says using the bus's recorded footage, the school determined the incident happened on February 12.

The suit claims the school learned there were other incidents. On February 18, the suit claims the boy  put his body close to the girl, grabbed her chin, and kissed her. On February 20, the suit claims the boy pulled the girl's head toward his lap while she struggled against him. 

The girl was sitting toward the front of the bus at the time. According to the suit, the school bus had a policy were young students sit at the front of the vehicle while older students sit in the back. The mother claims her daughter was sitting within a one seat distance of the bus driver.

The mom and her attorney said the boy should have been sitting in the back of the bus when these incidents took place.  

The mom said her child has suffered physical pain, emotional distress, and humiliation as a result of what happened and the school district and staff should have done more to protect her daughter, stating they were "negligent" in their duty. 

The mom is seeking actual damages for medical costs as well as other penalties for the emotional harm she says was done to her daughter. 

Richland School District One said it does not comment on pending litigation.  

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