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‘Haunted by trauma’: Girl repeatedly raped by another student on Boston school bus, lawsuit alleges

BOSTON — The family of a 9-year-old girl who was allegedly assaulted and raped multiple times by another student on a Boston school bus filed a lawsuit Friday that accuses Boston Public Schools of failing to protect the child on her rides home from class.

The lawsuit, filed by Morgan & Morgan in Suffolk Superior Court, also names the City of Boston, the Match Charter School, and a Transdev bus driver and monitor as defendants.

The girl, a student at the Match Charter Public School in Hyde Park, was repeatedly sexually assaulted and raped on the bus by an 11-year-old student over the course of seven months during the 2022–2023 school year, the lawsuit alleges.

“The sexual assaults occurred on diverse dates over seven months and were committed by another 11-year-old student,” the lawsuit stated. “The sexual assaults took place just a few feet from the bus monitor and the bus driver on the ride home after school from the Match Charter Public School.”

The lawsuit alleges that when the school became aware of the sexual assault, an investigation uncovered that despite Transdev requiring the bus to have mandatory video equipment onboard, no video was found for any of the dates of the alleged assaults.

Morgan & Morgan’s attorneys say the girl suffered great physical and mental harm, and that she was forced to leave school before she was able to complete the fourth grade due to fear of physical or social repercussions.

“Our lawsuit alleges that it was the failure of Boston Public Schools and Transdev to follow their policies that directly led to this young child’s assault,” attorneys Nina Bonelli and Alexander Zodikoff said. “Our client will experience a childhood haunted by trauma and flashbacks, and we will do everything in our power to hold the defendants accountable and prevent anything like this from happening to another child in our city.”

The lawsuit also alleges that the Transdev bus driver and monitor “either knew, or reasonably should have known, of the repeated and ongoing sexual abuse,” and that they had a “duty to identify, intervene, and take steps to end and report the abuse as well as to take reasonable steps to prevent it from reoccurring.”

Boston Public Schools and the City of Boston “negligently contracted with, hired, trained, retained, supervised, and managed” the Transdev driver, and the Match Foundation “failed to warn parents” of the behavior on the bus, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit further alleges that Transdev and/or its co-defendants “negligently, recklessly, and/or intentionally lost or destroyed video footage” from the bus.

“Children are the cornerstone of our communities, and schools are meant to nurture and protect them,” said John Morgan, founder of Morgan & Morgan. “As a father and grandfather, my heart grieves for our client and her family, who will have to live with this trauma for the rest of their lives. We will not stop until every person responsible is held accountable for their suffering.”

The girl’s family is now demanding a trial by jury.

In a statement to Boston 25, Boston Public Schools said that all buses have onboard cameras but officials were not able to retrieve the video since so much time had passed since the alleged incident.

“Boston Public Schools’ top priority is the safety of our young people. Our jurisdiction to take action is limited when it comes to students who do not attend a Boston Public School but still utilize BPS buses, and we were devastated to learn of this disturbing alleged incident five months after it occurred,” said BPS spokesman Max Baker. “Once we were informed, BPS took all the available and appropriate steps possible. The BPS Department of Transportation provided all information available to Match Charter School, which is legally responsible for investigating all incidents of impropriety regarding their students.”

Nnenna Ude, the Executive Director of the Match Charter Public School, says that while they are committed to student safety, they do not operate the buses that get the children to and from school.

“While we cannot comment on ongoing litigation, we took all appropriate steps to immediately notify the proper authorities, work closely with the families involved, and secure the safety of the students,” Ude said in a statement. “Match Charter Public School does not operate the buses that transport our students to and from school. But, we are committed to supporting our students and families whether incidents happen on or off campus.”

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said that she was deeply affected by the alleged incident but acknowledged difficulties in the city’s ability to take action.

“My heart breaks even at some of the information that’s being alleged is happening, for young children to be in and put at risk like that is completely unacceptable.  When it comes to the Boston Public Schools, I know the priority is to ensure that everywhere possible we are taking action.  It is difficult because we don’t have the full authority to take action, when it comes to students that are not Boston public school students.  They don’t go to BPS, even if they are Boston residents and are connected to some of the charter schools or other schools that use the BPS buses for transportation.  So, I know that Boston Public Schools has taken every possible action they could once they learned of what happened several months after it did occur, and have been trying to work to ensure that the school that this child does attend, was involved, and is moving forward on what they’re responsible for.

“I mean I know what it feels like to send a child off and what we want to create in every single space in Boston is that feeling of comfort, of reliability, of knowing that your child is going to be loved by teachers and adults who love them as much as you love them at home,” Wu continued. “We see that building throughout all of Boston public schools and this is a situation where, unfortunately, it’s not a BPS student, but we are doing everything we can to be cooperative and try to make sure that justice takes place here, and that if there’s anything that the district can do to support this, it is being done.”

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