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Shawnee Mission to settle lawsuit alleging officials failed to act on sex crimes

What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence is a social and public health problem in the U.S. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey says nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape at some point in their lives.
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Sexual violence is a social and public health problem in the U.S. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey says nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape at some point in their lives.

The Shawnee Mission School District is settling a lawsuit that alleged officials failed to act when a boy was repeatedly accused of sexual offenses before he assaulted another student in a middle school classroom.

The settlement, which was detailed in court documents last week, has been submitted to a federal judge for approval.

The district has indicated it will settle the student’s claim for an undisclosed amount of money, according to documents filed by the student’s lawyer last week.

The district and the plaintiff’s attorney’s did not return The Star’s request for comment in time for publication.

The sexual assault occurred in 2017, in an eighth-grade study hall at Westridge Middle School, when a male student “forcibly put his hands down (a female student’s) pants and penetrated her,” according to the suit.

The same boy had previously made unwanted physical advances toward three other students, the suit said. It alleged the district knew about the the allegations but failed to report them to law enforcement.

The district says in court documents that it was investigating the other reports of unwanted touching when it learned about the study hall incident and that it “handled the unfortunate incident perfectly well.”

The student was suspended and then expelled in March 2017, and the school resource officer filed a police report the same month.

In December 2017 the boy was convicted in Johnson County District Court of three counts of battery and one count of aggravated liberties with a child

According to the court filing, the district still denies any harassment or discrimination occurred.

If the settlement is approved, the student has agreed to make no further claims against the district related to the incident, according to court filings.

BEHIND OUR REPORTING

How we did this story

The Star obtained court documents describing the proposed settlement and sought comment from attorneys and school officials. The Star has previously reported on the lawsuit and the allegations.

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Katie Bernard covers Kansas crime, cops and courts for the Kansas City Star. She joined the Star in May of 2019. Katie studied journalism and political science at the University of Kansas.
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