Lawsuit: Girl with Down Syndrome sexually assaulted by Special Education classmate

Both students were 14 at the time

CANTON, Mich. (WXYZ) - A lawsuit has been filed against the Plymouth-Canton School District and five employees, after a special education student allegedly confessed to sexually assaulting a classmate.

Both students were 14 years old at the time and eighth-grade students at Discovery Middle School.

The victim's mother, Angela Maiorana, says her daughter, who has Down Syndrome, was repeatedly fondled by a male classmate from January through March. Both students were in the same special education class.

Action News is not naming either child because they are minors

"I was dumbfounded by the fact that this went on at school," Maiorana says. "You think that your children are going to school and they're going to be safe and that's not the case."

It all came to light when another student found Angela's daughter in a hallway pinned up against a wall, and the girl's hand was inside the boy's pants according to the lawsuit.

According to an internal investigation by the school district, provided to Action News by Maiorana's attorney Michael Dorfman, the boy confessed to repeatedly touching the girl inappropriately, forcing her to touch him, and on one occasion raping her near the gym.

"The school district knew that the other student had a history of acting out sexually," Dorfman says. "The students were left alone on numerous occasions, unmonitored, allowing this type of behavior to happen."

Angela says she noticed her daughter was pouting and crying more after school, but the girl never talked about what happened and evaded her mom's questions, and Angela never imagined what was going on.

The lawsuit accuses the district and several employees of gross negligence. Named in the lawsuit are Discovery Middle School Principal Roche LaVictor; Assistant Principal Terry Sawchuck; Director of Special Education Julie Woodhams; Special Education Supervisor Joslyn Clark; and special education teacher Amy Carns.

"I would blame the school for not taking initiatives to be watching these children," Maiorana says.

Both students are now in high school but in separate special ed classrooms according to Maiorana, and a paraprofessional is with them at all times.

The school district said today it is aware of the situation, but wouldn't comment on the lawsuit.

The teen accused of the assault has been charged by the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office with criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree and assault and battery.

Zero tolerance policies in school are different for special education students, and that may explain why the teen is still in school.


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