Lawsuit claims Harrisburg School District officials failed to prevent rape of student

HARRISBURG — The mother of a 15-year-old girl who attended Rowland Academy claims in a federal lawsuit that Harrisburg School District officials failed to prevent another student from sexually assaulting her daughter.

The lawsuit alleges that a student attacked and raped the eighth-grader in a single-occupancy, gender-neutral bathroom at the school on December 19, 2018. To note, such bathroom is the only one accessible to students in the basement.

The victim’s mother claims that the teacher knew about the alleged attacker’s sexually aggressive behavior toward others — including previous complaints about such behavior by the defendant toward the victim — when the teacher granted the student a hall pass to use the bathroom before the victim, who also received permission to use the bathroom, returned.

It’s alleged that the student entered the same bathroom, attacked the victim and raped her. According to the lawsuit, a janitor — also named as a defendant — walked by the bathroom during the incident and took no action.

The lawsuit says that the victim told told another female student who had happened a few weeks later, in which that student shared details with others — leading to the victim being harassed and bullied.

The girl’s mother became aware of the incident on January 12 and went to Rowland Academy two days later to speak with the principal, another defendant in the case. The lawsuit claims that the principal was aware of the sexual assault and when the victim’s mother asked for her daughter to be removed from classes with the alleged attacker during the investigation, the principal said he needed proof and the detective’s contact information because the victim has “lied before” and is “lying this time.”

The mother then became upset and cursed at the principal, which according to the lawsuit, led to a police report being filed with Harrisburg Police. She was then allegedly banned from entering Rowland Academy or being on school grounds. The lawsuit says that the mother then filed a complaint to the school district against the principal and alleged attacker to ensure that her daughter is separated from the student.

The lawsuit claims that the victim remained in classes with her alleged attacker and as a result, was forced to relive the traumatic incident. The mother eventually removed her child from Rowland Academy.

The lawsuit adds that the victim was deprived of access to educational opportunities due to the sexual assault and harassment after the face.

The mother seeks judgment against the school district and her daughter’s alleged attacker “in an amount to be determined at the time of trial plus interest, including but not limited to all emotional distress, punitive damages, liquidated damages, statutory damages, attorneys’ fees, costs, and disbursements of action; and for such other relief as the Court deems just and proper.”

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