SHOSHONE — The family of a 13-year-old girl who reported being raped by an older classmate in a Shoshone school computer lab in April has filed a federal lawsuit against the Shoshone School District.
Federal court documents say the girl and her mother were told she could not stay at the school following what was described as a violent rape by a prominent student athlete.
Court documents show the boy, a high school junior, pleaded guilty to eight counts of felony lewd conduct in juvenile court.
The lawsuit, filed Dec. 27 in U.S. District Court, alleges the school district had a “deliberate indifferent response,” failed to appropriately investigate and respond, and subjected the victim to a “hostile environment and sexual discrimination that denied her an education in the District.”
Shoshone School District Superintendent Rob Waite said Friday he has been encouraged to limit comments on pending litigation. But he said he urges people to understand the allegations that the school failed to investigate are “just a one-sided story.”
The school district is working with legal counsel to file a formal response by Feb. 1 that will be “vigorous and detailed,” Waite said. Then, he said, both sides of the story will be available.
The girl, who is now 14, lives in Gooding and is attending high school in the Gooding School District, according to court documents.
The lawsuit alleges the girl was denied equal protection until Title IX and that the school district retaliated against her.
On or around April 26, school district employees and administrators viewed a videotape of the incident, and notified the victim’s mother and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, which came to the school to start an investigation, according to court documents.
A deputy determined the case to be “lewd and lascivious conduct by a seventeen (17) year old male.”
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office took the boy into custody and he was transported to the Snake River Juvenile Detention Center.
Following a Sheriff’s investigation, the boy was charged as a juvenile and plead guilty on or around Nov. 17 to multiple felony charges of lewd conduct with a child under 16.
Court documents state “on information and belief,” the boy “was not incarcerated other than a short period of home detention.”
E. Lee Schlender of Mountain Home, the attorney for the girl’s family, said Friday he has been in touch with the Shoshone School District’s insurance carrier.
He said he hopes “that we can get this resolved as quickly as possible.”
“The mother and the children are destitute,” he said. “She had to move them from Shoshone over to Gooding, get an apartment, get them enrolled in school over there and has no money.”
The school district has asked for another two or three weeks to formally respond to the complaint, Schlender said.
In the meantime, he said, he has been trying to help the girl’s mother find house cleaning jobs.
Schlender said they’re a very strong family, and the mother has dedicated her life to her children and doing everything possible to take care of them.
“She’s very pleased with how everyone in Gooding has treated her,” he said. “She says the school has been fantastic.”
The victim is undergoing continued medical treatment, Schlender said, and has been “shocked and traumatized deeply by this.”
He said she was victimized once by being raped twice at the school and again by being told she had to leave the school.
Court records say the girl was a student at Shoshone Middle School at the time of the incident. The 17-year-old boy, who was “a prominent athlete at the school,” violently and forcibly had sex with the girl without her consent on April 24 and 25 in an unlocked Shoshone High School computer lab.
The lab was unsupervised and could be locked from the inside, requiring a key to enter from the outside. “The room was unlighted and the door locked automatically after entry,” court records say.
The school district’s surveillance and monitoring system covers the computer lab, and recorded the alleged rape and other actions, such as the boy and girl “carefully walking past the offices of the Principal/Superintendent, closely together and alone while all other students were in classrooms.”
On or about the time of April 24 and 25, a school administrator unlocked the computer lab, and found the girl and boy inside. The boy told her they were watching a movie on a laptop computer.
The administrator “performed no investigation or questioning, other than directing that they leave the room,” the records say.
The lawsuit says school district officials became aware of the incident around April 23-26, 2017.
From the time of the sexual assault and afterward, records say the victim “was harassed and frightened.” Following the investigation, the school district allowed the boy to continue attending Shoshone High School with a one-day suspension.
The boy’s father is a coach, and the family has been in Shoshone for more than 30 years and “had cultivated professional and personal relationships with school faculty, trustees and administrative personnel,” records say.
Within 10 days following the incident, the school administrator held a meeting with the girl and her mother and presented two options for schooling, the lawsuit says: stop attending Shoshone schools “with no further remedial action of any kind” or being homeschooled, with the school providing homework assignments weekly.
The girl and her mother decided on the homeschooling option, but say they didn’t receive homework assignments the first week.
“Now desperate to continue her education, (the girl) her brother and mother although destitute, were forced to leave their home in Shoshone and relocate to Gooding, Idaho, for the purpose of continuing the education of the two teenagers,” court documents say.
The girl “suffered severe physical, and mental distress, physiological damage, loss of standing in their community and damage to her reputation,” according to the documents.
The girl and her mother have been required to attend counseling and receive treatment with psychotropic medication.
The family has turned to charities for help with paying the rent, buying food and other necessities.
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