A family has filed a lawsuit against the city of Carmel after their 8-year-old daughter was allegedly bullied and sexually assaulted by another child at summer camp. The parents claim that their daughter was repeatedly bullied and harassed by a 7-year-old girl between June 8 and July 5 and camp workers didn’t do anything to stop it. The young girl told her mom what was happening to her at camp over the course of the summer.
In fact, it took a sexual harassment incident on July 5 for the camp workers to acknowledge that something was wrong. After forcing her to go in the bathroom at camp, the 7-year-old pulled down her pants and pushed the 8-year-old’s head into her crotch. The 7-year-old also pulled down the 8-year-old’s pants and touched her inappropriately on her genitals.
According to the mother, the 7-year-old also watched her daughter use the bathroom several times and exposed herself to her daughter. The 7-year-old was never removed from the camp, so the mother had no choice but to take her daughter out of that environment.
The 8-year-old girl’s mother said she contacted the Office of the Mayor of Carmel several times after learning what happened to her daughter and no one responded to her messages. The mother also was told by the State’s Department of Child Services that there was no evidence that her 8-year-old daughter was abused or that the city of Carmel was negligent. The Department of Child Services declined to make a comment about the issue.
“The trauma that my daughter experienced this summer has become a force of its own,” the mother said. “Every aspect of her life and our family life has been altered. Someone needs to answer to these atrocities and make sure that no other child and family have to go through what we are enduring.”
Tim Stoesz, the family’s attorney, said Carmel-Clay Parks & Recreation failed to protect the child from abuse even though the parents informed camp workers several times that they suspected abuse. He said it’s the city of Carmel’s duty to protect its children, and when they are under the protection of city, nothing less than absolute safety should be expected. Stoesz is seeking $700,000 in damages for the negligence and states that the 8-year-old girl shows symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“If two children can go off to a bathroom and have enough time to have things happen inside a bathroom stall and no adult is around, that’s a problem,” Stoesz added. “When multiple notices were given and events still continued to happen, that’s the problem.”
The 8-year-old girl is seeing a therapist and taking medication to treat the night terrors caused by the alleged abuse. According to her mother, the girl also chews her fingers and has become overly worried about going through puberty.