Family Files Lawsuit Against Portland Public Schools Over Third Grader’s Sexual Assault

A family in Portland is taking legal action against Portland Public Schools (PPS), Oregon nonprofit Latino Network, and Multnomah County after their third-grade daughter was sexually assaulted by classmates at Scott Elementary School. The lawsuit, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, seeks $9 million in damages for negligence, lack of oversight, and failure to protect a vulnerable person from abuse.

The main reason stated in the lawsuit for taking legal action against Portland Public Schools, the Oregon nonprofit Latino Network, and Multnomah County is their alleged failure to protect the third-grade student from being sexually assaulted by her classmates. The family claims that the defendants were negligent, lacked oversight, and failed to adequately safeguard a vulnerable person from abuse.

According to the lawsuit, the incidents occurred during school hours and at a county-led after-school program when the girl was just nine years old. It is alleged that two male classmates locked her in a bathroom stall and sexually assaulted her. The lawsuit also claims that the girl experienced unwanted touching of her genitals by another classmate during class, while under the supervision of a district educator.

The lawsuit further reveals that in a separate incident, the girl was kissed without her consent by another student. In response, she defended herself by hitting the student, resulting in both of them being suspended. Following these incidents, the school staff informed the girl’s father that they would create a safety plan for her.

Unfortunately, the abuse continued. Two male classmates kissed the girl without her permission while they were at the after-school program, jointly operated by the Latino Network on the elementary school grounds. The lawsuit states that the two male students then threatened the girl, coercing her to tell the after-school program staff that she needed to use the bathroom, or they would harm her. They followed her to the bathroom, locked her in a stall, removed her pants, and took turns sexually assaulting her as she protested. The lawsuit alleges that they blocked the stall door to prevent her from escaping.

The father of one of the male students involved learned about the incident from his child and reported it to the staff at Scott Elementary School. However, instead of immediately involving the police, PPS conducted an internal investigation, according to the lawsuit. The girl was interviewed by PPS staff without her parents or legal guardians being notified. It was only after the girl’s father found out about the sexual assault that he contacted the school and district staff. He was informed that the students involved in the incident would be kept at school with a “safety plan,” which included separate lunch periods for them and the girl.

Feeling that the school’s response was inadequate, the girl’s father transferred her and her younger brother to another PPS school. This process took about a month, during which the girl and her brother were out of school, while the students involved in the assault remained in school with only a one-day suspension.

Six days after the assault, the girl’s father took her to Legacy Randall Children’s Emergency Department for an evaluation. Subsequently, they were referred to CARES Northwest, a child abuse evaluation program, where practitioners expressed deep concern over the history provided, stating that it was highly indicative of sexual abuse.