Correction: A previous version of this article contained incorrect information about the relationship between the plaintiffs. The correct information has been updated.
ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – The grandparents of an Elmira High School student have claimed their developmentally disabled granddaughter was raped and impregnated on school property in a lawsuit filed last year, according to court records obtained by 18 News on Thursday.
The lawsuit, presented in the Chemung County Supreme Court on January 4, 2021, accuses the Elmira City School District of negligence, claiming the District put the student in danger by allowing her to be unsupervised by an adult, as required by her Individualized Education Program (IEP).
The attorney for the Elmira City School District told 18 News that because this is an active investigation, the District has no comment.
The grandparents, referred to as Jane and John Doe in the lawsuit, claim the multiple sexual assaults, happened in 2019 when their granddaughter, referred to as Judy Doe, was a student at Elmira High School on South Main Street. Judy was still a student when the lawsuit was filed, according to details in the document.
The attorney for Jane, John and Judy Doe told 18 News “My client is an especially vulnerable individual who relied upon the school to keep safe—the school failed her. This case exemplifies the need for institutions to be held accountable for those entrusted into their case.”
According to the lawsuit, Judy Doe had long been bullied at school, and the District was allegedly notified of the bullying in an April 2018 letter from her doctor. Judy’s IEP requires that she be accompanied by an adult to and from school “because she is immature and tends to trust people easily which makes her an easy target for victimization.”
Disclaimer: The following details of sexual assault may be disturbing for some readers.
A male student by the initials HN allegedly raped Judy on school grounds at least once in June 2019 while she was unsupervised by adults. HN allegedly threatened Judy, saying he would beat her up if she didn’t have sex with him. The lawsuit further claims that another student with the initials JS held down Judy while HN raped her. Due to her disabilities and out of fear, Judy did not come forward, according to the lawsuit.
During the summer of 2019, Judy started to complain about stomach pains, and doctors conducted a urine test in July, which came back positive. However, no pregnancy test was given. Through August, Judy continued to have abdominal pains, but an ultrasound did not reveal that she was pregnant.
The lawsuit claims that HN raped Judy again while JS held her down in September 2019 on school grounds, but Judy again did not tell anyone. Around the same time, Judy’s abdominal pains continued and a pregnancy test came back negative.
In October 2019, a Vice Principal allegedly found HN raping Judy on school property and told Judy’s grandmother that her granddaughter and HN were having sex on school grounds. The lawsuit claims that no security officials were on school grounds at the time of the October assault, and there were also no adults supervising Judy.
Judy later revealed to her therapist that HN had raped her multiple times after her grandmother scheduled an emergency therapy appointment, according to the lawsuit. After telling the Chemung County Sheriff’s Office of the alleged rapes, Judy had another pregnancy test that came back positive. Later in October, an ultrasound revealed that Judy was 22.5 weeks pregnant.
Judy didn’t return to school and was tutored at home. She also suffered “major anxiety” as a result of the incidents, according to the lawsuit.
In February 2020, Judy gave birth to the child, and due to her disabilities, her grandparents had to take care of Judy and the baby. The lawsuit claims that Judy also can’t “fully comprehend the future consequences of being a mother.”
The lawsuit alleged negligence by Elmira High School by letting Judy be unsupervised, “allowing the assailants to have a clear, simple and effective means to sexually assault and batter Judy on” school grounds. It also claims the school should have had more security because of “vulnerable students such as Judy… who were subjected to bullying” and because ” many students, such as [the] assailants, had dangerous propensities and violent backgrounds.”
John and Jane Doe also claim that the ECSD never notified them that Judy was being left unsupervised.
The lawsuit says that Judy has suffered many physical and mental damages, “including but not limited to: mental anguish and inconvenience; pain and suffering; loss of enjoyment of life; anxiety; depression; low self-esteem; anger and guilt; loss of dignity; public humiliation; embarrassment and shame; lack of trust; interference with personal life an happiness; deprivation of liberty; pregnancy related pain; obligation for medical bills; other economic and non-economic damages”
The attorney representing Jane, John and Judy Doe provided 18 News with the following statement:
“My client is an especially vulnerable individual who relied upon the school to keep safe—the school failed her. This case exemplifies the need for institutions to be held accountable for those entrusted into their case.”Aubrey D. Hetznecker, Esq. of Schlather, Stumbar, Parks & Salk, LLP.
The case is scheduled to be presented in court on February 22, 2022.
This is a developing story. More information will be provided as it becomes available.