Lawsuit Says Grandville Kindergartner Was Repeatedly Sexually Abused by Classmates
The parents of a young boy have filed a lawsuit against Grandville Public Schools, alleging they failed to protect him against sexual abuse from his classmates.
According to the lawsuit, the abuse began in the fall of 2014 and continued until April 2015, when the boy was a kindergartner. It says four other boys lured Jimmy Doe to the mudroom area of the classroom and sodomized him and photographed his genitals with iPads. They kept deleting the photos to make more room for additional photos.
“The assailants told Jimmy that if he did not cooperate with them, or if he told about the touching and pictures, they would not be his friends and they would say the sexual activity was Jimmy’s idea,’’ the lawsuit claims.
Jimmy’s parents started to notice quickly that something was wrong with him. They talked about their concerns during a parent/teacher conference in October 2014 and asked the teacher to watch for teasing. Jimmy’s behavior continued to get worse and he even told his parents that kids wouldn’t stop making fun of his pictures.
The following spring, principal Tonya Shoup contacted Jimmy’s mother after his teacher saw a student hiding his iPad screen as she walked by. The teacher took the iPad and saw photos of Jimmy’s genitals. She told his mother that the four boys said it was Jimmy’s idea to take the photos and that Jimmy admitted to having his picture taken.
The mother asked Shoup to save the photos and contact police and Child Protective Services. When she showed up to the school shortly after, Shoup told her that the investigation was complete because there was no evidence of coercion or assault.
Shoup allegedly told police that she only contacted them because the mother wanted her to and that she already conducted an investigation and erased the photos.
The parents later had a meeting school superintendents and were told that Jimmy could transfer to a different school. They also said that kindergartners have “normal curiosity, and suggested that if the parents insisted on pressing the matter, Jimmy would be the one to be disciplined as he was the only child whose genitals were photographed.”
While his parents took him out of school for a little while, he returned to kindergarten the next school year. The lawsuit says kids continued to abuse him and even took his pants down during recess. Jimmy hid at recess and covered himself in mulch to avoid further harassment.
If you or someone you know has suffered from sexual assault, it may be in your best interest to reach out to Cohen & Cohen, P.C.