Espanola, N.M., District Settles Sexual Abuse Case

December 27, 2006

The mother of a 6-year-old brain damaged boy who allegedly was sexually abused by an older child will receive $10,000 in the settlement of a federal lawsuit the woman filed against the Espanola, N.M., school district.

The district’s insurance company paid the money to the plaintiff, and the settlement was approved last month by U.S. District Judge Bruce D. Black.

The lawsuit had alleged the school district was negligent in allowing the 6-year-old special education student to leave school with a 13-year-old special education student in 2003.

The lawsuit said the 6-year-old boy suffered great emotional and psychological injuries after the older student took the younger boy home and molested him.

The mother of the 6-year-old contends she never authorized the older boy to take her son off school grounds. The school district maintained the woman gave verbal approval for her son to leave with the older student.

Espanola schools Superintendent David Cockerham said he believed the district could have won the lawsuit at trial, but the district’s insurance company opted to settle the case that was filed last year.

Both of the students attended James Rodriguez Elementary School at the time of the alleged incident. The Albuquerque Journal did not name the plaintiff in the case or the boy accused of committing the sexual abuse because of the nature of the allegations, the ages of the boys and their mental abilities.

Attorney Adam S. Baker, who represented the mother in the lawsuit, said she was satisfied with the settlement, “but I think she is overall disappointed with the school district’s failure to take any responsibility for what happened to her son.”

The lawsuit stated the older boy was criminally charged with sexual assault but a court found him mentally incompetent to stand trial.

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