PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - Portland's regional public transit system knew or should have known a bus driver was sexually abusing a 14 year-old girl, but other drivers told the victim to keep quiet, saying it would be her fault if her abuser was killed in prison, the girl's guardian claims in court.
The guardian of A.C. sued the Tri-County Metropolitan Transit District of Oregon, in Multnomah County Court.
The guardian claims that Tri-Met bus driver Christopher Parker sexually abused the girl "on dozens of occasions," and let her stay on his bus when it was not in service.
"Prior to A.C.'s abuse, Parker was reprimanded on two separate occasions in October of 2010 by Tri-Met supervisors for allowing A.C. to remain on his bus during out-of-service times," the complaint states.
"Tri-Met thus knew that the 52- or 53-year-old Parker was carrying on some type of relationship with a 14-year-old girl, and intentionally violating Tri-Met rules while doing so."
When Tri-Met discovered Parker's relationship with the victim, "another driver attempted to discourage A.C. from talking to the police by frightening A.C. into silence, saying that if Parker was convicted and subsequently killed in prison, it would be A.C.'s fault," the complaint states.
It adds: "(1) no Tri-Met employees reported anything about the relationship, even when Parker admitted it had become physical; (2) the union representative for the drivers knew of the relationship and Parker's reprimands for it, yet still advised both Parker and A.C. on how to avoid trouble ..."
Parker was suspended in March 2011, and at a later suspension hearing, the victim came to Tri-Met headquarters, according to the complaint.
"After the suspension hearing, Parker and A.C. remained on Tri-Met property in Parker's car until transit police were called to remove them from the premises. Tri-Met still failed to contract A.C.'s parents or inform them of her relationship with Parker, and A.C.'s parents only learned of the relationship when the transit police arrived at their home on the night of the suspension hearing," the complaint states. "Over the course of three months, Parker and A.C. had traded over 16,000 text messages at all hours of the day and night - approximately 160+ per day. These texts included sexual messages and pictures from both A.C. and Parker. ...
"[O]n information and belief, discovery will show that Tri-Met employees advised Parker and A.C. on how to avoid getting in trouble over their relationship, and others carried communications between the two after Parker was forbidden from contacting A.C. directly. One or more Tri-Met employees also attempted to have A.C. refuse to testify against Parker before the Grand Jury, in an effort to thwart prosecution of Parker for his abuse of A.C."
Parker is not named as a defendant. He was released on probation after 120 days in jail last year and is now a registered sex offender, The Oregonian reported.
The guardian seeks damages for sexual battery of a child and negligence. He and A.C. are represented by Kelly Clark, with O'Donnell Clark & Crew, who told The Oregonian that the fault lies clearly with Tri-Met.
"They knew there was this boundary-breaking relationship," Clark told the newspaper. "What's a 14-year-old girl doing on her own with the driver? It's certainly enough to call the parents.
"The first thing they should have done is get experts in to figure out what was going on. The second thing we allege is that it was negligence not to let the parents in on what they knew when they knew it."
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