A mother’s suit alleging her disabled daughter was sexually assaulted by another East St. Louis high school student settled shortly after voir dire ended in Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson’s courtroom.
The trial began Jan. 22 and was expected to last about two weeks before the parties reached undisclosed settlement agreements.
A court official said the trial settled "before it ever really got started."
The suit was originally filed as two separate actions – one against the school district and school officials and another against the students allegedly responsible for the assault. They were consolidated on Dec. 21.
Chinetta Martin, individually and as guardian of the estate of C.D.C., filed the suit against East St. Louis School District No. 189, Lelon Seaberry Jr., Eauclaire Shelby and Ilethea Suggs on May 27, 2016. She filed the suit against students Makial Lucas and Samuel Young III on May 25, 2016.
Martin filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss Seaberry without prejudice on Jan. 18.
The plaintiff was granted default judgment against Lucas in December 2016 after he failed to file a responsive pleading.
C.D.C. is a disabled adult with “significant developmental disabilities,” and was a student at East St. Louis Senior High School. She lacked the ability to cognitively process the most appropriate response when in a social situation and was enrolled in the Special Education & Services program, the suit states. More specifically, C.D.C. was enrolled in the school’s Emotional Disabilities Program and required constant supervision while attending classes or on school property.
Seaberry was the principal for the high school at the time of the alleged incident. Shelby and Suggs were special education or special service teachers at the school.
According to the complaint, C.D.C. was in her 9th grade classroom during 7th period on Dec. 16, 2013, when Young, who is also enrolled in the ED Program, entered her classroom and removed her from class at Lucas’ request. Young also has behavioral issues and requires behavioral charting every five minutes.
Martin alleged the teachers took no actions to prevent C.D.C. from being removed and failed to report that she was in the hallway without an adult, which is required for all students in the ED Program.
The suit stated that several other male students in the program with a history of behavioral issues also left class that hour and were in the hallway unaccompanied. General education students, including Lucas, were also allegedly in the hallway despite having no classes in that part of the school.
Once C.D.C. was out of her classroom at approximately 2:56 p.m., Young allegedly grabbed her by the arm and forcibly dragged her down to a janitorial closet where Lucas was waiting. Young allegedly pushed C.D.C. into the closet. Lucas then pushed her to the floor, causing her to hit her head on a metal garbage can. He forcefully removed her clothing and assaulted her while Young blocked the door from opening, the suit stated.
However, Martin alleged other students opened and closed the door while C.D.C. was being assaulted and did nothing to stop or prevent further harm.
Martin alleged her daughter was trapped in that closet for approximately eight minutes and no one came to her aide.
Security cameras recorded footage of C.D.C. being dragged down the hallway and forced into the closet. Cameras also caught her leaving. When she exited, she was visibly upset and crying, the suit stated. She later missed the bus home from school.
C.D.C. told her mother what happened later that evening.
Martin met with Seaberry and other school officials on Dec. 17, 2013, to discuss the incident. The district refused to allow her to review the security footage and attempted to cover the incident up, the suit stated.
A rape examination on Dec. 18, 2013, confirmed the assault.
Criminal charges were filed against Young and Lucas following an investigation by law enforcement.
Martin was represented at trial by attorneys with Cates Mahoney LLC in Swansea.
East St. Louis School District No. 189, Shelby and Suggs wer represented by attorneys with Becker, Hoerner, Thompson & Ysursa in Belleville.
Young was represented by attorneys with Ripplinger & Zimmer LLC in Belleville.
St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 16-L-283