“It’s disgusting”: lawsuit alleges DOE, BOE and principal failed to protect student


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A Kona school principal, the Department of Education and the state Board of Education are sued for failing to protect a student from repeated sexual assault on a public school campus.

The civil action, filed on March 30 in the 3rd Circuit Court and filed on April 29 in the United States District Court in Honolulu, alleges that between November 2018 and February 26, 2019, a student at Konawaena High School was repeatedly sexually assaulted, sexually abused, harassed and / or intimidated a minor who attended Konawaena Middle School on the high school premises.

The defendants – the state Department of Education, the Board of Education, the principal of Konawaena High School, Shawn Suzuki, and others not yet named – have been told that at least one order of temporary ban had been filed against the student before November 2018 who alleged the same misconduct as the victim in the March 30 trial.

“The defendants, and each of them, had received information that the student had sexually assaulted, assaulted, harassed, threatened and / or harassed other female students, and they took no action to protect (XX ) as well as other students, ”the lawsuit read.

It is West Hawaii Today’s policy not to identify victims of sexual assault. The newspaper will not publish the initials of the victim or the name of the complainant on the lawsuit to protect the identity of the minor.

Instead, the victim will be identified as “XX”

Although the man is not named in the lawsuit, the minor’s guardian confirmed to West Hawaii Today on Wednesday that he was in fact Justin Mariano, who has been charged with sexual assault in three separate criminal cases, including one involving the victim in the civil lawsuit. . He is currently confined to Hawaii State Hospital pending review of his status for next month.

The civil lawsuit further alleges that the defendants did nothing to monitor or supervise the male student despite being informed by the students and / or parents as early as 2015.

“Based on information and beliefs, students and / or parents filed complaints directly with defendant Suzuki about the student’s continued misconduct, but defendant Suzuki took no action to protect female students from assault, sexual assault, assault, harassment and / or threats by male student, ”the lawsuit read.

As a result, the underage victim “was repeatedly assaulted in the ‘E’ building of KHS,” the lawsuit reads.

“He was preying on young girls who had some sort of mental or physical defect,” said attorney Michael J. Green, who filed the complaint. “He was running around the school, as our complaint says, having sex with these young children and apparently the principal or the deputy principal knew about it and their response was, ‘well, you know, these are just kids. , they’re just students. ‘”

Green said he believed there were more casualties.

“I don’t think for a second that these were the only two victims. I can tell you that I have a third victim whose statute of limitations has expired and I absolutely believe 100% that the school knew he was a danger to young girls at school, ”he said. he declares. “I have no doubt about it.”

The civil complaint describes seven counts or causes of action, including violations of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fourteenth Amendment, which offers equal protection under the United States Constitution , as well as allegations of negligence on the part of the defendants for failing to train or supervise Suzuki to respond to complaints, and negligence and gross negligence in their duty to protect the victim. The last two counts allege that the defendants intentionally and / or negligently inflicted severe emotional distress.

“The defendants BOE and DOE intentionally violated Title IX by subjecting (XX) to discrimination on the basis of her sex by acting with total indifference to acts of assault / sexual assault perpetrated on her by a student. The failure of the defendants BOE and DOE to act to rectify the situation which resulted in repeated trauma and a threat to the safety and well-being of a victim of sexual abuse was a breach of duty to (XX) ” , indicates the court document.

The incidents effectively prevented the victim from accessing a benefit or educational activity, according to court documents. An amended complaint further alleges that the victim, after completing eighth grade at Konawaena Middle School, chose not to attend Konawaena High School because Suzuki failed “to take effective action and did not respond with corrective measures to protect “the minor from further harassment by the harasser or his siblings.

If judgment were to be in favor of the plaintiff, special, general and punitive damages in unspecified amounts would be claimed, in addition to attorney’s fees and other costs. “Due to the reprehensible conduct of the Respondent, (XX) suffered and continues to suffer from pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of quality of life, loss of enjoyment of life, medical bills and other costs, “the court document reads.

“Anyone who knew about this should not be allowed to teach children – whether a principal, deputy principal or counselor – if they knew this was happening, had been wise to investigate and they ignored it – they should never be allowed to do so. educate the kids again, ”Green said. … “It’s disgusting. They knew this was happening, they were warned and they didn’t do anything.

The state’s education ministry declined to comment on the ongoing litigation. Suzuki did not respond to a message seeking comment at press time on Wednesday.

A hearing on a motion to dismiss most of the charges laid by the defendants filed on June 25 will be held on July 31 in Honolulu. The 20-page motion seeks to have all claims dismissed except the Title IX violation against the BOE and the DOE, the Fourteenth Amendment violation against Suzuki as an individual, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress against Suzuki on individual title.

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