School Accused of Ignoring Sexual Abuse

     FRESNO, Calif. (CN) — An elementary school janitor ran over a girl with a golf cart and slapped her twin sister’s face after they told school officials he had touched them inappropriately, the 9-year-old girls say in a lawsuit against the man and the school district.
     Benjamin Wong, 52, was arrested in October on six counts of annoying or molesting a child under the age of 18, to which he pleaded not guilty. He is out on $30,000 bail awaiting a tentative trial date of June 15.
     Fresno Unified School District placed Wong on administrative leave in May 2015 after the allegations against him surfaced. He resigned from the district in July.
     The Tuesday lawsuit in Superior Court claims that Wong sexually abused 11 girls and a boy at Norseman Elementary School during the 2014-2015 school year.
     The twins, A.S. and A.J.S., say Wong molested them repeatedly during school hours.
     He touched their buttocks and vaginas with his hands, stroked their hair and cheeks, stroked the bare inside of their legs, offered them money and candy, and hid a camera to take pictures of them, according to the complaint.
     Wong “came up behind A.S. and placed both of his hands under her shirt and grabbed her on her hips and stomach while she was in the girl’s bathroom washing her hands,” the complaint states.
     In other incidents, the janitor “picked A.J.S. and cradled her like a baby when she was wearing a skirt” and “lifted A.J.S. high in the air over his head while she was wearing a dress and viewed her underwear,” the twins say.
     When they reported Wong to school administration and he Wong found out, he “punched A.J.S. in her head leaving a large lump” and “ran over A.J.S. with [a] golf cart,” the complaint states.
     They say Wong also retaliated by grabbing A.S. by her ponytail and slapping her in the face and jabbing her with a broom while she was in a stall in the girl’s restroom.
     The sexual abuse took place during lunch and an after-school program, during which Wong took the children out the back door of the auditorium to a secluded place where Dumpsters are stored, the complaint states.
     School employees were told several times during the school year that the twins and several other children had complained that the janitor was touching them inappropriately, according to the complaint.
     Specifically, the twins say in the complaint, they told the school nurse and Principal Kimberly Collins that Wong had been touching them.
     At one point, Vice Principal Patrick Her told the janitor to leave the door between the auditorium and the trash area open, but Wong continued to shut it when children were in the trash area with him, the girls say.
     Despite these red flags, the school continued to employ Wong without investigating the children’s reports or preventing him from being alone with them, according to the complaint.
     “Unfortunately, staff and administration had all the warnings that would cause a reasonable person to comply with their mandated reporting requirements; however, they all chose to turn a blind eye to the ongoing sexual abuse of their female students that would occur on a daily basis,” the complaint states.
     The girls seek punitive damages for sexual battery, negligence and sexual harassment/misconduct.
     They are represented by Tiffany Smith Henson, who did not immediately return a request for comment.
     A spokesman for the district said the district has not been served with the lawsuit and does not comment on pending litigation.

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