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Monday, December 10 , 2018, 2:56 am | Fair 49º


Lawsuit Alleges Bullying, Harassment of Lompoc Special Ed Student

A lawsuit has been filed against the Lompoc Unified School District, the city of Lompoc and Santa Barbara County alleging staff did not stop multiple students from bullying and assaulting a developmentally disabled boy.

Filed Aug. 13 in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Santa Maria, the lawsuit names a minor child, his guardian, Patricia Lomelli, and his parents, George Corn and Susan Hurtado, as plaintiffs.

The lawsuit filed by attorneys Ryan Harris and Alise Malley of Harris Personal Injury Lawyers Inc. lists multiple defendants, including the school district, the Santa Barbara County Education Office, Santa Barbara County, the city of Lompoc and several individual district and staff members associated with Lompoc Valley Middle School.

In addition, the lawsuit includes a student who acted as a teacher’s assistant and is referred to as Jane Doe due to her age.

The name of the boy, also a minor, has been omitted from this story at the request of the family. 

Attorneys contend a middle-school student — dubbed the lead antagonist — “engaged in bullying, assault, battery and harassment on school grounds toward (the boy), a special education student with a severely limited vocabulary and limited cognitive functioning.

“Plaintiffs are informed and believe, and on that basis allege, that during the 2014/2015 school year, the counselors and administration at LVMS were or became aware that multiple LVMS students were engaging in bullying, cyber bullying, harassment, assault, and battery activity toward special education students, including (the boy) on campus and, specifically, during physical education class,” the complaint said.

“Additionally, the girl forced, intimidated, and coerced male special education students to enter the female locker room where she shoved (the boy) to the ground. 

“Defendants, specifically Jane Doe,  took pictures, videos, and possibly other electronic media recordings of various private body parts of (the boy),” the complaint said.

“Defendants, specifically Jane Doe, posted pictures, videos, and possibly other electronic recordings of her tormenting special education students, including (the boy), on the mobile application Snapchat,” the lawsuit said.

Videos show the girl making the boy say offensive words and another depicts him pushing her around the track on a bike while Jane Doe records it, the complaint said.

She also called the boy derogatory names, referring to special education students as her “slaves” and telling other students “that she was being mean to special education students ‘because they are retarded.’”

The boy also learned obscenities from his alleged abusers.

When he began showing up with cuts and bruises in addition to saying obscenities, his parents learned of the alleged abuse.

In all, the lawsuit includes 20 causes of action, including negligent supervision, negligent hiring, supervision and retention, Unruh Civil Rights Act disability discrimination, several incidents of infliction of emotional distress as to the boy and his parents, bullying, sexual harassment, negligence, assault, battery, and violation of civil rights.

The plaintiffs are seeking special and general damages, exemplary and punitive damages, reasonable attorney’s fees, triple damages under civil rights discrimination laws, court costs and other relief the court deems just and proper.

Claims filed against the city of Lompoc and the county were rejected, clearing the way for the lawsuit filing. It's not clear whether a claim was filed with the school district, too.

Attorneys from the city and county and school district representatives did not respond to to a request for comment.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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