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updated: 2/16/2017 6:29 PM

Suit alleges student sexually assaulted at Palatine school

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An Inverness couple are suing Palatine Township Elementary District 15 after they say their son with special needs was sexually assaulted by students three years ago behind a large snow pile outside Marion Jordan Elementary.

The suit, filed last month in Cook County circuit court, accuses teachers of "turning a blind eye to bullying, battery and assaults" that occurred at least two times between December 2013 and February 2014.

The student, identified in the suit only as Doe Child, was sexually assaulted and battered behind the snow pile by at least two students -- out of sight of faculty and staff recess supervisors who were standing within or near the school's doors, the suit alleges.

Superintendent Scott Thompson said in a statement Thursday afternoon the district conducted a comprehensive investigation into the matter in 2014 by interviewing staffers and students, including those alleged to be involved, but determined there was no wrongdoing. He also said officials notified the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services but the agency didn't find enough evidence to open an investigation.

The student, who would have been 11 or 12 at the time, was diagnosed with a language disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, making him a target for unwanted attention and bullying from fellow students, according to the suit.

His parents say they became increasingly concerned with changes in their son's attitude and behavior, prompting a meeting with Principal Jenny Grosch in February 2014 to detail the allegations of physical and sexual assaults.

A day after their initial meeting, Grosch met with the parents again after she questioned up to three other children thought to be involved. According to the suit, Grosch told them one of the students was playing a "bull-riding game" with the consent of their son.

Grosch suggested the offending students would meet with him to apologize "as the singular remedial measure," according to the suit.

But the parents say they sought further discipline. Days later, they took their son out of school, eventually enrolling him in a private school.

The boy's aunt also filed a report with DCFS, which contacted the Palatine Police Department.

The school "knew or should have known that subjecting Doe Child to an unsupervised environment, despite their awareness of his disability and his vulnerability to harassment from his peers, caused him to be extremely susceptible to maltreatment, bullying and abuse," lawyers for the family wrote.

Attorneys say the child sustained serious injuries and suffered severe emotional distress. The family is seeking $300,000 in damages from the school district.

District officials say they were served with the suit earlier this month and are now working with their legal counsel to respond to it.

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