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The father of an East Lyme elementary school student has sued the school district and its transportation contractor, First Student Inc., after his daughter said she was molested several times by an older boy during her bus ride home from the Lillie B. Haynes Elementary School in April 2012.
The alleged victim, who was 6 years old, said that while riding home from school on the bus, the boy, 9, pulled down her pants and touched her private parts.
Attorney Scott D. Camassar, representing the girl's father, filed the complaint last month in New London Superior Court. Judge Emmet L. Cosgrove granted the plaintiff temporary permission to use the pseudonym "Jane Doe" due to the ages of the children and the nature of the case.
The complaint names the Town of East Lyme, Superintendent James Lombardo, Lillie B. Haynes Principal David Miko and First Student, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based bus company. The father alleges negligence and carelessness on the part of the defendants in that they failed to prevent, discover or stop the sexual assaults, failed to use cameras to monitor and supervise students on the bus, failed to have monitors or aides on the bus, failed to keep the girl and boy separated, failed to have policies protecting young children from being molested and failed to properly supervise or train drivers or staff to recognize signs of sexual assault and molestation among students.
As a result, the lawsuit alleges, the girl suffered physical pain and sickness, mental and emotional anguish and distress, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, tearfulness, anger, frustration, irritability, fearfulness, flashbacks, nightmares and disturbed sleep. Also, the complaint alleges the incidents impaired her ability to maintain healthy relationships and caused embarrassment and humiliation.
The family incurred costs for medical care and treatment, including counseling, and will incur future costs, according to the complaint, which also indicates the girl lost time from school and experienced academic difficulties.
"It's an ugly situation for sure," said Camassar.
He said discovery is just beginning in the case. He said that the boy denied the allegations and that he doesn't think there were any witnesses to the incidents.
"My understanding is that these were the last two kids on the bus," he said. "Apparently it occurred out of eyesight of the driver."
Camassar said a Department of Children and Families investigation was inconclusive.
Attorney Thomas Gerarde of the Howd & Ludorf Law firm in Hartford, who is representing the town defendants, did not return a phone call seeking comment. Neither did attorney Steven H. Malitz of the LeClairRyan firm of Hartford, who is representing the bus company.
The defendants have until July 7 to respond to the complaint.