Bus driver named in civil sexual assault complaint

Ann Knef Oct. 29, 2007, 7:48am

James Steele, Sr. has refiled a civil complaint against Southwestern Illinois College, its bus driver Lorenzo Perez and Challenge Unlimited, Inc. alleging Perez sexually battered and assaulted his mentally challenged daughter.

According to the complaint filed Oct. 23 in St. Clair County Circuit Court, Perez assaulted Steele's daughter on Nov. 14, 2003, while she was a passenger on his bus.

The suit was previously filed in 2005, and then voluntarily dismissed without prejudice on Dec. 19, 2006.

Steele's daughter has the approximate intellectual capacity of a 10-year-old, the complaint states. The suit states that Steele's daughter would attend school and work in a supervised facility and be transported to and from her residence.

Challenge Unlimited provides services to mentally challenged individuals.

Alternative Transportation System, which provided transportation services, hired Perez, the complaint states.

Steele claims the defendants failed to provide safe transportation when they knew or should have known that said students needed a heightened level of protection from predators and others.

He also claims the defendants failed to provide cameras or other surveillance devices on their buses when they knew or should have known that such was necessary for protection of both the driver and passengers.

Seeking in excess of $100,000 in damages, Steele is represented by Gregory L. Shevlin of Cook, Ysursa, Bartholomew, Brauer & Shevlin of Belleville.

He claims his daughter sustained severe and permanently disabling injuries, mental suffering, humiliation, shame and mental anguish. He also claims she incurred medical expenses.

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