PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — A jury awarded $26 million to a Pasadena special-needs student who was sexually assaulted by three classmates, her lawyers said Wednesday.
A Los Angeles County jury in Long Beach ruled Tuesday in a negligence lawsuit against the Pasadena Unified School District.
The suit said the student, which it identified only as Jane Doe, was 11 years old when she was attacked in May 2016. She was attending a special education program for emotionally disturbed children at Focus Point Academy in unincorporated Altadena.
The academy was partially funded and supervised by the district, according to the suit.
According to her attorneys, a teacher’s aide left the girl unsupervised with three male classmates who dragged her behind a building and groped and molested her.
The three, who were identified in the suit only as “Subject Rapists,” were later criminally charged with committing lewd conduct and forcible sex acts on a minor, the suit said.
The girl suffered serious and permanent injuries, the suit alleged. She eventually was institutionalized as a result of the assault, said a statement from her attorneys.
In addition to negligence, the suit alleged that the district failed to properly train or supervise employees who were supposed to teach and oversee students.
The school district denied that the attack took place and at trial also argued that the girl didn’t suffer any damages as a result of its conduct, said the statement from the law firm of Panish, Shea, Boyle and Ravipudi LLP.
But the jury awarded her $12.5 million for pain and suffering and $13.5 for future pain and suffering.
“This verdict demonstrates that all children, regardless of their disabilities, deserve to be protected,” trial counsel David Rudorfer said.
Messages seeking comment from the school district and from the attorney who represented the district at trial weren’t immediately returned Wednesday.