Mother sues South Huntington district, says bus driver sexually abused daughter
A Huntington Station woman is suing the South Huntington school district for negligence, alleging her daughter was sexually abused by the school bus driver who dropped her off at school each day.
The suit, filed last month in State Supreme Court in Riverhead, alleges the district did not properly train the driver on its "anti-sexual abuse policies," and failed to supervise and protect the child, now 13. The suit also says the district was negligent in not firing the driver. The family's attorney, David H. Rosenberg of Carle Place, said it is seeking unspecified monetary damages.
Suffolk police investigated allegations made by the mother in June 2011 and interviewed other students, but did not arrest the driver and brought no charges against him. The investigation was closed in December 2011. Newsday is not identifying the mother to protect the identity of her daughter.
The school district's attorney, Thomas Spellman of Smithtown, said the district also conducted an investigation. He would not comment on its findings or on the lawsuit. Spellman said the driver never drove a bus in the district after the allegations were reported, and was assigned to work in the transportation department's garage, where he had no contact with children. School records show he resigned from the district Nov. 20, 2012. The driver is identified by last name only in the lawsuit.
The suit alleges that the child, then 11, was sexually abused about 15 times from March 2011 to June 2011. Each incident involved the driver touching the girl's chest, according to the suit.
The driver told police he did "occasionally flick a student on the head with his finger as a joke or if they misbehave." He said he "never touched any student in an inappropriate manner," records show.
Four students were interviewed independently at the school with a school official present. None reported seeing the driver touch the child inappropriately, the police report said.
Records show police received a report on Nov. 10, 2011, containing results of an internal investigation by the district, which interviewed 34 students who rode the bus. One reported seeing the driver touch the child's chest, records show.