The parents of a disabled boy who was raped by an older student at a Rogers Park elementary school in 2014 has filed a lawsuit claiming the Chicago Board of Education and a school employee failed to properly supervise their son.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court, claims the disabled boy was raped by the fellow student on Sept. 16 in a bathroom at Jordan Elementary School, 7414 N. Wolcott Ave.
The boy, who was 12 years old at the time of the attack, has autism, dystonia and certain severe physical, developmental and learning disabilities, according to the suit. At the time, he was communicating at a kindergarten level.
The boy, identified in the suit as John Doe, told four teachers and the school’s principal that he was being bullied and physically hit by other children prior to the rape, the suit claims. In addition, his parents told the principal that other students were abusing him outside the classroom, and his father demanded an investigation.
The suit holds that the CBOE failed to take “reasonable and necessary action in response to the repeated complaints” from the boy and his parents.
During the school day, the boy was under the care of certain employees of the CBOE, including Anthony Romeo, and his Individualized Education Plan required him to be accompanied by an adult while outside the classroom, the suit claims.
Romeo could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.
On the day of the rape, Romeo sent the boy to the bathroom alone with his attacker, who had a history of violence that was known to the CBOE, according to the suit. Prior to being sent to the bathroom, the boy told Romeo that the other student had tried to kiss him on the lips, according to the suit.
The rape lasted more than 14 minutes, and the two students were outside of the classroom for nearly 20 minutes, the suit claims. During that time, no employees came looking for the boy.
The boy’s parents filed a police report at the school that same day. The other student was ultimately taken into custody Oct. 8, 2014, and charged with felony counts of criminal sexual assault using force and aggravated criminal sexual abuse using force, according to Chicago Police. It wasn’t immediately known whether he was convicted or sentenced.
The family’s suit accuses the CBOE and Romeo of willful and wanton misconduct, including failing to supervise, care for and/or protect the boy while he was at school.
The family is seeking a jury trial and more than $50,000 in damages, plus costs related to the boy’s medical and psychological treatment, according to the suit.
The CBOE didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.