Braxton, state school boards sued over alleged sexual assault

By John O'Brien | Jun 19, 2006

CHARLESTON - A Heaters woman is alleging her then-3-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted on a Braxton County school bus.

In a lawsuit filed June 7 in Kanawha Circuit Court, a woman known only as "T.A." to protect the identity of her children says the Braxton County Board of Education and the West Virginia Board of Education are to blame for an April, 6, 2005 incident.

The lawsuit says the woman's 3-year-old daughter, a participant in the school system's Head Start program, was riding home on School Bus No. 83 next to a 7-year-old student of Flatwoods Elementary when she was sexually assaulted by her seatmate.

It adds that the Board tried to cover up the incident by "not obtaining the appropriate written statement from the driver of the bus and by instructing the minor and her parents to participate in a lengthy interrogation prior to obtaining medical treatment."

The woman claims the defendants had a duty to provide for proper safety.

"The West Virginia Board of Education failed to promulgate and/or enforce appropriate regulations to ensure the safety of extremely young and vulnerable Head Start participants," the complaint says.

Brett J. Preston of Preston and Salango in Charleston is the plaintiff's attorney. The woman added that her other children, a 5-year-old and a 14-year-old, were on the bus at the same time and have experienced mental anguish because of the incident.

The alleged victim, it says, has sustained permanent and disfiguring scarring and has incurred "pain and suffering; embarrassment and humiliation; annoyance and inconvenience; loss of self esteem and self confidence; emotional and mental distress; and terror."

The plaintiff is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. Judge Charlie King has been assigned the case.

The Braxton County Board has another sexual assault case pending against in Kanawha Circuit Court. The father of a then-Braxton County Middle School student is suing for not properly monitoring Toni Woods, a former teacher there who pled guilty to inviting students to her home where she offered them alcoholic beverages and engaged in sexual behavior with them.

The state Board is also named as a defendant on that suit.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-1095

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