A jury in Bakersfield, California, has awarded $1.5 million in civil damages to the family of an autistic teen. The parents of the alleged victim, a 16-year-old girl, say she was sexually assaulted by a fellow student in a co-ed bathroom at Independence High School in 2009. The other student was also autistic. The girl's parents filed a civil lawsuit against the Kern High School District, alleging that administrators' negligence allowed the assault to occur.
The majority of the jury agreed with the parents' allegations that the girl was harmed in the incident, and that the school was guilty of negligence in failing to prevent it.
The family's attorney, Ralph Wegis, told local news outlet The Bakersfield Californian that he was happy with the verdict. He said the jury's decision proved that a child might not have the cognitive ability to understand an encounter, but that doesn't mean he or she wasn't victimized.
"This a good signal of the dignity of every human being and that to these special needs children, happiness in their life is just as important to them as it is to the valedictorian," Wegis told reporters.
According to local ABC News affiliate KERO Bakersfield, the family initially sought damages of $10 million.
If you believe your family member was victimized in Missouri as the result of the negligence of an individual or group, you may have the right to seek damages on your loved one's behalf. You should contact experienced personal injury lawyers as soon as possible. The Kansas City attorneys at Meyers Law Firm can assess your claim and help you recover any civil damages to which you may be entitled.