BROWNSVILLE, Texas (CN) – A mother claims in court that Brownsville Independent School District did not protect her deaf-mute son from a bully who sexually assaulted him in a school bathroom – a year after the bully himself had been molested in the same bathroom.
On behalf of her son, John Doe A, Maryann Reyes sued Brownsville ISD, the BISD Police Department, several school officials and the bully “Child Defendant 1,” who is also deaf and mute, in Federal Court.
“During the 2009-2010 school year John Doe A, a minor, was enrolled as a special services student at Oliviera Middle School. John Doe A is a special needs student who is unable to speak or hear,” according to the complaint.
“At the beginning of the school year, John Doe A was a victim of bullying from C.D.1, who began a pattern of harassment and physical intimidation and threatening John Doe A with physical violence in the classroom at the school and on a school bus to and from Oliviera Middle School.”
Reyes says the bullying escalated as the school year went on.
“Culminating at the beginning of November of 2009, [with] C.D.1 beginning a series of sexual assaults totaling seven counts on seven different occasions ending January 27, 2010,” Reyes says. “The sexual assaults happened at Oliviera Middle School in the bathroom facility during the early morning hours after John Doe A and C.D.1 arrived at campus by bus.
“Neither John Doe A or C.D.1 were supervised while arriving on campus, and C.D.1 would coerce John Doe A into the restroom by threats and physical violence.
“On January 27, 2010, both John Doe A and C.D.1 were missing from their classroom. Neither had reported to the cafeteria as required and no staff member had escorted them there after leaving the bus while arriving on campus.
“A teacher aide was sent by John Doe A’s classroom teacher Elena Garcia to locate both John Doe and C.D.1.
“A student notified the teacher’s aid that both John Doe A and C.D.1 were in the boys bathroom with strange sounds being made.
“The teacher’s aide went to Garcia’s classroom and reported to her the information of the students’ whereabouts.
“Over an hour had elapsed without supervision of John Doe A and C.D.1 by any staff member at Oliviera Middle School.
“John Doe A appeared in class where Garcia asked his whereabouts and was told of the brutal sexual assault that had taken place.
“C.D.1, who is also deaf and mute, was identified by John Doe A as the perpetrator and that he had been sexually assaulted starting in November of 2009 in the same restroom on campus in the same manner by C.D.1.
“John Doe A’s parents were notified and were informed by staff at Oliviera Middle School by telephone that an ‘accident’ had occurred and to come to the school.
“Arriving at school, John Doe A’s parents were notified by Principal Alfonso Barbosa that an ‘accident’ had occurred.
“Meanwhile, the mother of John Doe A, Maryann Reyes, was informed by two uniformed B.I.S.D, police officers that John Doe A had been raped and sexually assaulted.
“John Doe A was transported to a Harlingen Hospital facility, where he was examined by a medical doctor where it was determined he had been sexually assaulted and had been victimized at school since November of 2009.”
Reyes says that while her son was recovering at home from the assaults, Principal Barbosa, teacher Elena Garcia and the district’s special services director Kathleen Jimenez made an unexpected visit to her house.
“During the meeting Ms. Reyes was assured that the district would do ‘Everything possible to make things right’ for John Doe A,” the complaint states.
Reyes claims BISD Superintendent Bruce Springston called her a few days after the last assault and told her, “‘He had spoken to everyone he needed to,’ knew of the ‘Situation,’ and that every resource would be made available to John Doe A.”
But Reyes says her son has not received any counseling, and “as a result John Doe A has become depressed, agitated, and is experiencing mental anguish. …”
“Approximately one month after the last sexual assault on January 27, 2010, C.D.1 was prosecuted. C.D.1’s mother approached Ms. Reyes and was upset that C.D.1 was being prosecuted but was apologetic for C.D.1’s actions,” the complaint states. “During the conversation it was learned that C.D.1 had been sexually assaulted at Oliviera Middle School in a restroom facility during the 2008-2009 school year prior to John Doe A’s enrollment.
“C.D.1’s mother had received information by school administration Principal Barbosa that C.D.1 had been observed in a restroom with another student in the early morning hours with clothes removed from the waist down at Oliviera Middle School.
“C.D.1’s mother was informed by Principal Barbosa that C.D.1 had been sexually assaulted by another student. Classroom Teacher Garcia and Lopes were also aware of the sexual assault on C.D.1 from the previous school year.”
“Principal Barbosa acted with reckless indifference when he specifically failed to take action to prevent further sexual assaults and molestation after having knowledge of the prior sexual molestations during the 2008-2009 school year.”
Reyes says C.D.1’s mother had informed the school board and campus police about her own son’s being assaulted, before he assaulted Reyes’ son.
Reyes and her son seek damages for constitutional violations, pain and suffering, medical expenses, and punitive damages from Principal Barbosa. Here are the defendants: BISD, its police chief Oscar Garcia, Oliviera Middle School, Principal Alfonso Barbosa, former Superintendent Brett Springston, BISD special services director Kathleen Jimenez and Child Defendant Number 1.
She is represented by John “Roca” Shergold with Hodge and Shergold in Brownsville.