A 13-year-old Idaho girl was sexually assaulted and raped in April by a 17-year-old male student in a middle school’s computer lab, according to court documents from a new civil rights lawsuit filed in federal court this week.
According to the lawsuit, the older student, identified as L.V. in the court documents, “violently without her consent, forcibly had sexual intercourse” with the younger female, identified as P.R., in the computer lab on April 24 and 25 while the room was darkened and locked. (Because the victim and alleged attacker are juveniles BuzzFeed News is not naming them in this article.)
BuzzFeed News also obtained criminal charging documents showing that L.V. was charged with four counts of lewd conduct with a child under the age of 16, a felony in the state of Idaho. The case is sealed because he is being charged as a juvenile.
Now the victim and her mother are suing the Shoshone School District claiming that school administrators acted with indifference and retaliated against the victim after learning about the incident.
School officials deny this, however. “Keep in mind, the allegations made in the [lawsuit] are a one sided account; only one side of the story,” Shoshone School District Superintendent Rob Waite wrote to BuzzFeed News.
Waite said that the school district had “just recently have been informed of this action and our insurance company has not yet formally assigned counsel for this case.”
“As soon as we are assigned counsel, we will work with them to file a formal response with the court to the claims,” Waite said.
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According to the complaint, the two students were discovered by Shoshone school principal Kelly Chapman in the computer lab during the alleged incident. The victim, P.R., claims that after Chapman entered the room L.V. told the principal that the students were just watching a movie on a laptop computer. At that point, Chapman told the students to leave the room.
The next day, on April 26, according to the complaint, surveillance footage of the alleged rape and assault was viewed by employees of the school district, including Chapman, and officers from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.
P.R.’s mother told BuzzFeed News that after Chapman learned what happened inside the computer lab the principal summoned her to the school. She said that the principal and her daughter told her about the sexual assaults and she viewed the video footage. She then left the school with her daughter and brought her to the hospital.
L.V. was arrested and brought to Snake River Detention Center, according to the complaint, and later charged. He was held overnight then allowed to go home and return to school the following Monday after serving a one-day suspension.
Ten days after learning about the alleged incident, the family says Chapman met with the mother and P.R. They claim that the school gave P.R. two options: either leave the school altogether or be home-schooled with lessons and homework sent to her on a weekly basis. The family chose the latter, but the mother said that after she received her daughter’s assignments the first week, the school never sent home any additional lessons.
After the alleged assaults, the mother said her daughter started to experience panic attacks, developed a stomach ulcer, and needed to attend counseling four times a week and take medication to help her sleep.
P.R. and her family also continued to run into L.V. on occasion around the small Idaho town.
One time, the mother said, she and her daughter saw L.V. at a gas station where she claims he spotted them and started to laugh.
“[My daughter said,] ‘Mom, we need to leave, the guy, he’s putting gas in his car and he’s laughing,’” the mother said.
“Everywhere we go, he’s there. He’s living his life like nothing happened,” she said.
Before the new school year began in fall 2017, the family decided to move 25 minutes away to the town of Gooding, Idaho to get a fresh start.
But the mother said that the move triggered new harassment from the Shoshone school administration, this time involving her son, a star soccer player for the high school team. She said that after the family moved, Shoshone school administrators tried to block her son from playing for Gooding High School, a rival team.
“They called the state and said my son still lived in Shoshone,” the mother said.
She said that the Gooding principal told her that she had to provide proof that the family did in fact live in Gooding. At the time, the woman and her children had not established a residence in their new town because they were staying with her sister as they did not have money to rent their own place. Eventually, through donations and help from people, the woman was able to rent an apartment, which allowed her son to continue to play soccer at Gooding High School.
“They tried to close the door on my son,” she said.
P.R.’s lawsuit against Shoshone claims the school is liable for failing to properly investigate the alleged rapes and sexual assaults, while forcing her to leave the school and move to another district and allowing her alleged attacker stayed in school despite facing felony charges. The family is seeking an undisclosed amount in monetary damages.
“When I reviewed this case, it seemed to be outrageous,” attorney Lee Schlender, who is representing P.R. in the lawsuit told BuzzFeed News. “We alleged that under applicable civil rights acts, education rights, she was not at all treated properly. She was not treated as a victim, and was in effect victimized, and punished for what happened.”