This article came across my computer at work on a news feed today. I sat in stunned silence for several moments, really unable to comprehend what I was reading. I have been trying to process this all afternoon and have decided to post it, only for the purpose of educating. Although I want to pretend this cannot happen, I recognize I must be diligent in continuing to work with Sarah on this issue.
Oberlin schools sued over rape of 13-year-old with disabilities
Posted by Michael Sangiacomo/Plain Dealer Reporter January 08, 2009 12:11PM
Categories: Breaking News, Crime, Real Time News
ELYRIA — An Oberlin couple has filed suit accusing the Oberlin School District of failing to protect their 13-year-old mentally disabled daughter from being sexually assaulted by classmates at Prospect Elementary School.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Lorain County Common Pleas Court, the parents accuse the school district of negligence and violating the federal laws designed to protect disabled children.
Arlene Craft, attorney for the girl's family, said in the lawsuit that two students in the girl's special-needs class began having sexual relations with the girl when she was 12.
The girl has Down syndrome.
Oberlin police said they investigated the allegations and turned their findings over to county juvenile court authorities.
Craft said teachers or school officials should have noticed when the girl was being taken behind the bleachers and assaulted in May 2007.
The girl's parents realized there was a problem when their daughter began talking about her boyfriends. The lawsuit said the boys did not force the girl to have sexual relations, but that because of her disability, she is unable to give consent.
The lawsuit says the school district should have been aware of the "abusive tendencies" of the two boys when it placed them in the class with mentally disabled children.
The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $25,000.
Oberlin schools Superintendent Geoffrey Andrews declined to comment, noting that he has not yet seen a copy of the lawsuit.
Here is the link to the article. WARNING: some of the comments are equally disturbing.
The following statement is taken directly from the National Down Syndrome Society Website:
How can a person with Down syndrome be protected against sexual abuse?
It is highly recommended that age-appropriate education in protective behaviors begin in childhood and be reinforced throughout the life of the person with Down syndrome. Individuals with Down syndrome must be taught the boundaries of normal physical interactions in the social sphere, as well as the self-assertion skills to enlist help if necessary. Practicing assertive behaviors, designating trusted individuals in settings that are frequented with whom to discuss or report questionable activities are important aspects of abuse prevention training.