A family claiming a disabled child was sexually assaulted on school bus is now suing East Hartford, its school district and the Dattco bus company.
The sexual assault on the bus happened on two separate occasions in late summer, according to the lawsuit.
The 20-page lawsuit was filed in Hartford superior court on Wednesday.
It said the assailant was another male student, who has a history of alleged behavioral issues.
The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters recently sat down with the family’s attorney.
Attorney Rick Kenny described to NBC Connecticut what the child’s parents are going through, “You’re frustrated as to why this would happen in a school system of all places. It didn’t out in some park-- it didn’t happen at some ball game. It happened on a school bus, where you’ve entrusted your child to.”
The lawsuit alleges the victim, named anonymously as “John Doe”, was sexually assaulted in August of 2015 on a Dattco school bus.
The child was 12 years old at the time and a special education student at East Hartford middle school. Attorney Kenny said there is video surveillance of both incidents.
Attorney Kenny told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters, “When you look at the films, you don’t have any question this took place."
The paperwork indicates the child was forced to inappropriately touch another male student riding the same school bus and perform oral sex on that same student.
It happened, Kenny said, two times in late August, as the bus driver was either loading or unloading wheelchair bound students behind the bus.
Attorney Kenny added, “The bus driver cannot say, 'well I’m doing the wheel chairs therefore, I cannot monitor the other children in the seats, ok?'”
The lawsuit names the town of East Hartford, its board of education and Dattco, Inc. specifically.
The documents cite negligence that includes the failure to provide a safe ride to school, failing to adequately train employees and failing to warn of the danger presented by the so-called assailant.
Kenny stated, “I’m not sure why he was on that bus, that’s something we need to find out because everyone else on bus had some level of disability.”
Kenny describes the assailant as having past behavioral issues and not being disabled.
“This is a small version of a Dattco bus. 3-4 students in the benches and 3-4 wheelchairs in the back, and for some reason the bus driver didn’t see this, the school had no monitor on the bus and the young man was assaulted in the seat by student in DCF custody, by the child,” Kenny stated.
Kenny said the alleged victim is now receiving intensive treatment.
“He’ll be transferred to another school district, and is suffering from shock, emotional distress, anger, sadness, feelings of being unsafe, paranoia and increased anxiety,” according to Kenny.
School superintendent Nathan Quesnel tells the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters the district conducted an investigation as soon as the allegations came to light and they contacted police.
Adding, "The safety and wellbeing of our students is our paramount concern. If we become aware of any claim a student has been mistreated in any way, we investigate the claim properly and thoroughly. Where appropriate we also notify law enforcement and child protection agencies.”
Kenny reminded, “Connecticut has a law that says there’s special duty to children, you now have custody of child, the parents do not. And when you have that you have an affirmative duty to make sure child isn’t harmed. And eh, didn’t do that and neither did Dattco and we’re going find out why.”
A spokesman for Dattco, Incorporated, and the bus company named in the lawsuit tells the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters, “because of ongoing litigation, Dattco is unable to release any information at this time,” stated COO Cliff Gibson.
A spokesman for the mayor in East Hartford told us by phone today, she has no comment because this is an ongoing investigation.
The Department of Children and families is prohibited by state law from disclosing information on child protection records.