Lawsuit claims negligence at Ballard caused special needs girl's 2018 rape

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The mother of a special needs student filed a lawsuit Thursday against an assistant principal and teacher at Ballard High School, claiming they failed to protect her daughter from being “brutally” raped by another student after she got off the bus unattended.

The girl, who was 16 at the time, suffers “a significant intellectual impairment” that leaves her barely able to read at a first-grade level and unable to consistently recite her home phone number or address, according to the lawsuit filed by her mother, Audrey Martin.

But the lawsuit says that no one was there to help the girl off the bus on Feb. 15, 2018, when another student found her walking around the school after she was dropped off.

That boy took her to an empty part of the school and raped her, the suit alleges.

Nick Naiser, the family’s attorney, said Ballard officials simply told Martin that her daughter was attacked. The lawsuit says one school employee told her that Jefferson County Public Schools could not keep watch of every student at all times.

Police completed a rape kit, but Naiser said from his understanding the case is still under investigation by Louisville Metro Police. LMPD confirmed there is an open investigation into the case, but no arrests have been made. 

School officials knew they had to escort the girl from the bus to class because of her intellectual deficiencies, the suit says. It names Tonkeyta Rodgers, an assistant principal at Ballard, and Carla Andrews, a special needs teacher at the school, as defendants.

"We think that when folks don't do their job, they should be held accountable because it is the most important job of the public school system to keep our kids safe," Naiser said. 

In fact, Martin was assured by school officials that it would never happen again after no one helped her to her class months before the alleged incident, Naiser said.

“It boggles my mind. More importantly, it boggles the family’s mind how something like this is allowed to happened. And then why something like this happens to other kids as well and why it doesn’t seem, from their perspective, anything’s being done about,” Naiser said, noting that his client’s daughter transferred from Ballard.

“They want to see some change. They want to hold these folks accountable for when this happened, because it’s the school’s job to protect their students.”

When reached for comment Thursday, a JCPS spokesperson said "it’s the district’s practice not to comment on pending litigation."

The suit seeks an unspecified amount for the child's physical injuries, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other damages.

Reach reporter Kevin Wheatley at 502-585-0838 and kwheatley@wdrb.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinWheatleyKY.

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