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11-year-old student files $9M lawsuit against PPS, others after alleged sexual assault

By Paulina Aguilar

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    PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) — An 11-year-old girl has filed a $9 million lawsuit against Portland Public Schools and others claiming an after-school program did not protect her from a sexual assault at school.

The lawsuit accuses employees at Scott Elementary in Northeast Portland and those working for an after-school program there, of negligence and failing to prevent sexual assault on a nine-year-old third-grade student in 2022.

According to the lawsuit, throughout the girl’s third-grade year in 2022, there were several incidents of sexual assault by four male students at Scott Elementary.

The lawsuit is asking for $9 million in damages from PPS, Multnomah County, and the non-profit Latino Network, which runs the after-school program.

The case lays out a series of alleged attacks made on the third grader.

On an unknown date during the 2021-2022 school year, a classmate touched her genitals over her clothing during a class taught by a district educator. In March 2022, another student kissed her without permission. And in April, of that same year, two students in the after-school program threatened her, followed her to the bathroom, locked her in a stall, and took turns sexually assaulting her against her will.

The father of one of the male students involved learned of the incident from their child and reported it to staff at Scott Elementary School.

The lawsuit claims that PPS interviewed the then, 9-year-old girl without immediately notifying her family, and suspended the two boys involved for one day.

Portland Public Schools issued a statement.

“The district learned of these new allegations last week when we received the lawsuit, and we are investigating. We are mandatory reporters, meaning we must report any instance of possible child abuse and neglect to the Department of Human Services (DHS). Such reports to DHS are confidential. We take our responsibilities as mandatory reporters seriously and follow the law around reporting.”

According to Katie Schilperoort a mother whose two children currently attend Scott Elementary, the school failed to notify parents of the situation.

“It is the school’s obligation to give parents the opportunity with the situation as major as that to decide whether we want to send our kids back to that school or not, and that was taken from me,” said Schilperoort. “My kids…I thought were safe at that school. These are people I thought I can trust with my children and I was wrong.”

At the time Schilperoort’s daughter was in the same class and became friends with the student who filed the lawsuit, according to Schilperoort.

“They just always had such a good time and then one day I went to pick my daughter up. She didn’t know what happened to her friend,” said Schilperoort.

The lawsuit claims that in the days after the alleged attack, the 9-year-old’s father removed her from school.

The Latino Network issued a statement.

“On Tuesday, April 2, Latino Network was made aware of a lawsuit in which we were named as co-defendants along with Portland Public Schools and Multnomah County. The lawsuit alleges that the three organizations were liable for failing to prevent sexual assault of a 9-year-old student in 2022.

As a community-based organization committed to trauma-informed practices, this news is painful to our staff, our board, and the communities we serve. We take the allegations very seriously and are working with our legal representation to provide counsel to our organization. We want to affirm that the allegations of sexual assault are not directed towards any current or former Latino Network staff member. Because this is active litigation and to preserve confidentiality for the privacy of any participants involved, we cannot share the specifics of the incident and must focus on how to continue to care for our staff, our community, and our families.”

The Portland Police Bureau issued a response.

“PPB reviewed this at the time and while concerning, the case did not meet our criteria for assignment primarily because the alleged suspects were legally ineligible for criminal liability due to their age. Nonetheless, CARES-NW got involved in order to give the young girl an opportunity to share her experience and access the necessary support services.

“It’s worth noting, PPB frequently encounters cases involving individuals below the age threshold for criminal prosecution. In such instances, we collaborate closely with DHS and their specialized unit dealing with Problematic Sexualized Behavior to ensure appropriate intervention and support.”

Multnomah County, a sponsor of the after-school program, declined to comment.

The now 11-year-old did get support services from Cares-Northwest after what happened and now attends a different school.

Schilperoort also plans to remove her children from Scott Elementary.

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