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Scales of justice
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A family settled with the Albany County School District earlier this month after alleging the district could’ve done more to prevent the sexual assault of a 6-year-old girl.

The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed. The settlement was announced Feb. 12, three days after a judge began considering a school district motion for summary judgement.

Holli Welch, who represented the family in the lawsuit, declined to comment.

John Coppede, who represented the school district, was not available Friday.

The lawsuit, filed last year, alleged that an 8-year-old boy sexually assaulted a first-grader during a 2014 field trip. The suit claimed that officials “knew that (the student) had a history of harassment and inappropriate sexual behavior toward female students, and that he posed a substantial threat to the students.”

In subsequent court filings, the district denied the allegations.

The male student allegedly had a history of “luring female students to put their heads on his lap; enticing female students to sit on his lap ... placing his hands between the legs of female students,” on the bus and elsewhere. The male student’s conduct was reported to first one transportation director, then his successor, and to the victim’s teacher, her principal and to the district’s assistant superintendent, the lawsuit alleged.

Both students are identified only by their initials in legal filings.

In February or March 2014, the girl and the male student were sitting next to each other on the bus on the way to a field trip, according to the suit.

The male student then allegedly placed his coat over them both. The victim told him to stop, to which the student replied that they were playing a game.

He then forced her hand down his pants, forced his hand down her pants and sexually assaulted her, the suit alleged. The student told the girl he would kill her father if she told anyone, according to the suit.

The victim feared riding the bus and lost interest in school, according to the lawsuit. Her mother contacted her daughter’s teacher and asked if there were an issue at school, to which the teacher said there was not, even though she knew about the boy’s behavior, the suit claimed.

It’s unclear how the alleged assault came to light. The girl’s family now lives in Georgia. They requested damages related to the assault, according to the lawsuit.

In a subsequent court filing, the school district responded by saying that any damages “were caused or contributed to by the acts and omissions of others over whom the school district had no control or right of control.”

Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson


Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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