COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The suspect in a sexual assault lawsuit against Richland School District One is a 9-year-old boy, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department said Wednesday.
The lawsuit alleges negligence against the district, claiming a 5-year-old girl was repeatedly sexually assaulted while on a school bus.
Attorney Tyler D. Bailey filed the lawsuit on behalf of the girl and her mother, and said they are struggling.
“To be frank with you, they’re traumatized at this moment,” he told WIS on Wednesday. “They’re still processing everything. It’s a surreal moment for them. For both the daughter and mother, they have a long road ahead.”
The lawsuit alleges the bus driver did not intervene in the assaults, despite at one point being only one seat away.
“No parent who sends their child on the school bus would even fathom something like that occurring,” Bailey said.
The lawsuit claims the elementary school the 5-year-old girl attended did investigate her claims, and found video supporting the allegations.
When the lawsuit came to light, WIS looked into whether any charges were filed.
RCSD issued the following statement:
“An incident involving two minors was reported to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department on Feb. 26. The parents of a 5-year-old girl said a 9-year-old boy inappropriately touched her while the two of them were on the school bus. Because of the ages of the children involved, it was determined the incident would be addressed through counseling, and no charges were filed in the case.”
The attorney said the district has not provided him or his clients any information on how bus drivers are hired, retained or disciplined.
He said the damage is done, and he’s now hoping the district will care for his clients.
“Access to the medical treatment, the counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, or any other therapist that can help her for the remainder of her life to recover from this,” he said.
Bailey added: “We hope that by the attention to this case, that school district, Richland School District One, and other school districts throughout the state will enact policies that prevent this happening from another young child on the school bus.”
When asked if the bus driver was fired, the school district declined to comment due to the pending litigation.