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Portland, Oregon, schools and after-school program sued after a 9-year-old girl is allegedly raped

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A young girl and her guardian have sued an Oregon nonprofit organization, Portland Public Schools and Multnomah County for $9 million, alleging they were negligent when male classmates sexually abused her at school and raped her during an after-school program when she was a 9-year-old third grader.

The child, who is now 11, attended a Portland elementary school and an after-school program operated by Multnomah County on her school campus in partnership with Latino Network and Portland Public Schools.

The lawsuit says the girl was subjected to multiple episodes of nonconsensual sexual touching during school hours. In March 2022, she hit a male classmate in the face to protect herself when he touched his mouth to hers, but the lawsuit said the school suspended both her and her attacker for the incident.

The next month, two other male students trapped her in a bathroom stall during recess at their after-school program and raped her, the lawsuit said. The school learned about the assault when the parent of one of the male perpetrators heard about it from their child and reported it.

The lawsuit alleges the school and after-school program failed to immediately notify law enforcement and undertook an internal investigation. It says school district personnel interviewed the girl without notifying law enforcement or her parents of the sexual assault or about their interview.

The school suspended the two males for one day and said they would stay in school with a safety plan. But the girl’s father didn’t believe this would keep his daughter safe and so enrolled her and her younger brother in another Portland public school. Both the girl and her brother missed almost one month of schooling as a result.

The lawsuit said Portland Public Schools should have known that the plaintiff was vulnerable and at risk of continued sexual assault by male students. It alleges the school district was negligent in failing to adequately train and teach students about appropriate sexual boundaries and how to report abuse.

The lawsuit alleges the school system made the plaintiff feel that she would be reprimanded if she protected herself from unwanted sexual contact. It says the school system was negligent for failing to report the student’s vulnerabilities to after-school program staff and to train employees to monitor, recognize and report child sex abuse.

It alleges Latino Network and Multnomah County were negligent for failing to maintain awareness of students during the after-school program and adequately train after-school program employees to monitor, recognize and report child sexual grooming and abuse.

Portland Public Schools said in a statement that it learned of these new allegations when it received the lawsuit, and it is investigating. It said it is required to report any instance of possible child abuse and neglect to the Oregon Department of Human Services, and such reports are confidential.

“We take our responsibilities as mandatory reporters seriously and follow the law around reporting,” it said.

Multnomah County said it does not comment on pending litigation. Latino Network said the news of the lawsuit is “painful” to the organization, which is committed to trauma-informed practices.

“We take the allegations very seriously and are working with our legal representation to provide counsel to our organization,” it said.

The lawsuit was filed on March 20 in Circuit Court in Multnomah County.

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