HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A Hanover County mother is outraged after her 5-year-old daughter was allegedly sexually assaulted on the school bus. And now, she says she’s been told her daughter still has to ride the bus with her suspected attacker.
To protect all the children involved, 8News is not disclosing names in this story.
“It makes me angry because you send your kid to school on the school bus and you assume they are safe,” the mother of the alleged victim said.
The mother’s sense of security was unraveled when she learned her kindergartner was allegedly groped on the school bus by a 4th grader. Her 5-year-old daughter had confided in her brother.
“Told him that a child on the bus has tickled her tinkle,” she explained.
The mother immediately asked questions about what happened onboard the bus.
“She even went further and told me that he touched her under her shirt,” the mother says.
She wasted no time can calling school leaders. She was told they would look into the matter. School leaders said they were reviewing bus footage.
Yet, several days passed and nothing. She says no one even talked to her daughter. When she pressed for answers, she was told school officials talked with the boy.
“He gave no indication of anything inappropriate and they didn’t see anything on the bus tapes and there was nothing they could do,” she said. “I knew that wasn’t right, I knew that wasn’t right.”
So the mom went to police and filed a report with the Hanover Sheriff’s Office.
“That’s a crime,” she said.
The mother added that she didn’t feel like school administrators took her claim seriously until she went to police.
“I don’t know if it was about reputation and protecting that, or lack of knowledge about how to handle a case like this, but I do feel like it was just brushed under the rug,” the mother said.
In the school’s bus incident report shared with 8News, a school administrator writes, “I did not see any indication of touching in her private area and could only see them tickling each other.”
8News, however, has confirmed with the Hanover Sheriff’s Office that the investigator on the case “determined that enough evidence existed” to file a juvenile offense report. We’re told that report states the “complaint was validated.”
“I got a phone call mid-July that there was enough information that the child gave that it did occur,” says the mom.
She was told counseling was mandated for the boy. But mom wanted him off the bus.
“I requested he be removed from the bus so that my daughter doesn’t have to be put in the same exact position where she was sexually assaulted twice a day,” says the mother.
She says Hanover Schools refused.
“To put that victim in that same exact environment and with the assailant twice a day that can’t be good for anybody emotionally,” she added. “So I couldn’t do that. She has not ridden the school bus since the day she told me.”
Thanks to relatives, mom has worked out transportation for her daughter but she doesn’t think her kid should be the one booted from the bus.
“She asked me, if she is the one doing something wrong. Why am I the one being punished?” It’s hard to explain to a young child sometimes the system, let’s us down,” the mother said.
Angry over Hanover’s handling of the incident, she has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The U.S. Department of Education has opened an investigation
“It is frustrating that as a victim’s parent I had to fight. It shouldn’t be that hard to protect our kids,” says the mom.
A spokesperson for Hanover Schools says they’re legally limited in what they can say; they’re prohibited from disclosing any information identifying students.
“We investigate every safety concern that is brought to our attention and work closely with the sheriff’s office in these matters. if an investigation reveals there is a threat to student safety, then we will take the appropriate steps that are legally permissible.”
Hanover schools adds that it is cooperating with that federal complaint.