Sexual assaults cited in suit against UCPS

Jun. 01, 2013 @ 04:46 PM

The Union County Board of Education is being sued by parents alleging their special needs child was sexually assaulted by other students at Porter Ridge High School in 2011.

The civil suit, filed with the Union County Clerk of Court on May 20, 2013, alleges the victim is a male Porter Ridge student enrolled in the special education program. He was dropped off at Porter Ridge High School daily by one or both of his parents at 7:30 a.m., the time school officials stated students could enter the school. The victim usually waited in the school cafeteria until the beginning of class, according to court documents.

From January 2011 to May 2011, the victim was intercepted on his way to the cafeteria by two PRHS students and led to a boy’s bathroom. One of the students was enrolled in the special education program and the other was a mainstream student.

“Upon information and belief, (victim) was sexually assaulted at PRHS by the two PRHS students on multiple occasions for a period of five (5) months...” the suit states.

The mainstream student was charged with sexual battery on July 25, 2011 and pled guilty in Union County Court to a reduced charge of simple assault on Nov. 27, 2011.

The special education student was found incompetent to stand trial.

Neither assailant were mentioned by name because both are minors.

The victim’s parents argue that the assaults happened because school staff did not provide adequate supervision.

“As a result of the actions of Defendant, Plaintiff...has suffered physical injury, as well as untold psychological injury,” the suit states. “(Victim) has demonstrated signs of social withdrawal as well as fear of groups of boys his own age. Further, (victim) was unable to finish the 2010-2011 school year or attend PRHS during the 2011-2012 school year because UCBOE allowed both of the two PRHS students who assaulted (victim) to continue to attend PRHS and because (victim) had lost all faith and trust in the principal and staff at PRHS to keep him safe.”

The suit alleges gross negligence by the UCBOE to provide a safe environment for the victim, take steps to prevent continued sexual assault by the two students and allowing mainstream students unsupervised access to special education students.

The suit cites the North Carolina Constitution’s passages guaranteeing access to education, claiming the UCBOE denied the victim that right by of not ensuring a safe environment.

The plaintiffs sue for injuries and damages in excess of $30,000.

Union County Public School officials cannot comment on pending litigation, UCPS Spokesman Rob Jackson said Friday.