In September 2020, a child sexual abuse lawsuit was filed on behalf of an 11-year-old girl in Florida. The lawsuit named the All Saints Catholic School, the school’s principal and the Diocese of Palm Beach as defendants.
Nature Of The Abuse
According to the victim’s attorney, a male classmate fondled the sixth-grade victim when the teacher left the room. The victim told police the boy touched her inappropriately on two separate occasions.
The abuse occurred between January and March 2020, before COVID-19 restrictions suspended in-person classes.
School officials were informed of the abuse. But, they did little to protect the victim from her abusive peer. The abuser remained in the same classroom, and the girl became a victim of further bullying.
Due to the emotional trauma of the abuse and bullying, the victim struggled with her mental health. In response, the school principal punished the girl.
Victim Punished For Abuse
After the girl misbehaved due to trauma, the principal suspended her and required her to write an essay.
The principal then shared her essay with school parents and some of her peers. Thus, the details of the victim’s personal life became gossip for classmates, further traumatizing her.
According to court documents, the victim’s essay included a confession, which indicates she understood her inappropriate social behaviors were induced by the abuse. The documents stress the victim was taking “unfair responsibility for the symptoms of her trauma induced mental health disability.”
Abuse Reported To The Police
The victim confided the details of her abuse to a friend. The friend told an adult who called the Florida Abuse Hotline. The police were notified of the abuse and an investigation ensued.
The male student was later charged with “battery and lewd and lascivious molestation.” The Palm Beach Post reported the abuser told police, “I put my finger in a girl’s private spot but it wasn’t on purpose, but it wasn’t on accident.”
Despite being criminally charged, the male student was not punished by the school for his actions.
The lawsuit alleges the school and the principal’s actions to protect the abuser were “motivated out of a desire to extend undue favor [to] the Abusive Peer because his parents are long-time and repeated substantial financial donors to the school itself and several charities connected to the Diocese of Palm Beach…”
Civil Lawsuit Claims School And Diocese Were Negligent
The civil lawsuit filed by the girl’s attorney names the school and connected diocese. The lawsuit also names the principal for her handling of the situation.
The lawsuit alleges the defendants enabled child abuse through negligence. The lawsuit asks for unspecified damages.
The plaintiff is no longer attending All Saints Catholic School. She is in therapy to process the trauma she suffered. The male abuser is still a student at the Catholic school.
Burke, P., Gilmore, C. (2020, September 17). Lawsuit claims All Saints Catholic School failed to protect student from sexual abuse in classroom. WPTV.
Complaint for Plaintiff, V.S. v. Diocese of Palm Beach, Inc., No. 113501443 [Fla. 15th Cir. Ct. Sept. 17 2020.]
Musgrave, J. (2020, September 17). Girl sues diocese, Catholic school in Jupiter over abuse allegations. The Palm Beach Post.
Musgrave, J. (2020, September 22). Student charged in case that led to sex-abuse lawsuit against Catholic school, diocese. The Palm Beach Post.
Parker, T. (2020, September 17). All Saints Catholic School sued by girl, 11, claiming abuse by fellow student. WPBF News.