ESL student raped after being shut out of school sues

Steve Gonzalez May 1, 2006, 10:02am

An East St. Louis High School student who missed her bus ride home but was not allowed back inside the school to call for a ride, has filed a lawsuit in federal court.

According to the complaint filed April 28 in U.S. District court, the girl was walking toward the Washington Park bus station when she was abducted by four men armed with guns on May 4, 2004. She was later raped by one of them at an unknown residence.

The seven-count lawsuit names East St. Louis School District 189, its principle and superintendent, and Bi-State Development Agency as defendants.

The plaintiff seeks in excess of $525,000 in damages.

According to the complaint, the student met with her school counselor and after the meeting went outside to catch the bus.

The student's mother claims the bus left without her daughter and when she returned to the school building she was stopped from entering the school and was told that pursuant to school policy she could not re-enter the school after leaving. She was instructed to walk home or walk to a Bi-State bus stop.

According to the complaint, the minor started to walk and when she was near the Washington Park Metro Link station, the men approached her and threatened to shoot her in the head. She was forced into a car.

"At the unknown location, the men took her into a residence where she was raped by one of the men," the complaint states. "The men later drove her to Washington Park and pushed her from the car."

The mother claims that the school promulgated a policy that allowed school employees to meet with students after school hours, even if the student would be unable to catch their assigned bus.

She also claims the policy prohibiting students from re-entering the building would strand students in a high crime area.

"East St. Louis, Illinois is a notorious high crime area and is known to have a high rate of violent crimes, rapes and crimes involving guns," the complaint states.

She claims that despite the school's knowledge of the dangers to students stranded outside, the school started and continued its policy, acting with a grossly reckless and deliberate indifference to the students of the school.

The mother also claims the school's policy deprived her daughter of her substantive due process right to be free of unjustified intrusions on her personal, mental and physical integrity.

She also is seeking damages from Bi-State claiming it knew that criminal activity, including public intoxication and drinking and the illegal use of drugs, was occurring at the Washington Park station.

"Prior to May 4, 2004, Bi-State knew that criminals loitered on and near its property for the purpose of victimizing people using the Metro Link," the complaint alleges.

The mother also claims that Bi-State knew that the high bushes and weeds on its premises were used by criminals to conceal themselves while waiting for victims.

According to the complaint, Bi-State breached its duty to use ordinary care to protect passengers from criminal attacks by failing to provide a safe ingress to its property, knowingly allowing criminals to loiter on its property, failing to remove high weeds and bushes and allowing people to drink alcohol and use illegal drugs.

She also claims Bi-State placed an entrance to the Washington Park station in an area occupied by dilapidated and abandoned homes, high bushes, weeds and trash, which it knew was used by criminals to further the victimization of Metro-Link passengers.

The mother claims her daughter sustained physical injuries, experienced pain and suffering, experienced anxiety and mental distress and has incurred expenses for medical and psychological treatment.

The family is represented by Eric Evans and Dawn Kamadulski O'Leary of Roth, Evans & Lading of Granite City.

The case has been assigned to District Judge Michael Reagan and Magistrate Judge Donald Wilkerson.


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