Schools stop fighting $100,000 judgment

December 01, 2007|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,Sun reporter

The Baltimore school system has dropped its appeal in a lawsuit alleging that a 12-year-old girl was sexually assaulted in math class five years ago, and it will pay the girl and her mother a $100,000 judgment ordered by a lower court.

The system's action came after a Sun article Sunday detailed the family's plight. The girl, now 17, has been hospitalized in psychiatric facilities 21 times since the incident on Nov. 27, 2002, and she is now living in a residential facility for vulnerable adolescents.

"I feel like crying," her mother, Bridget Banks, said when she heard the news yesterday.

"Thank you for putting our story out there," she told a reporter. "My daughter can finally get the closure that she needs."

The mother and daughter together won a $100,000 judgment - the maximum permitted by law - after a jury trial this summer in Baltimore Circuit Court. In appealing to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, the system was alleging that the girl provoked the attack.

The lawsuit charged that seven boys attacked and sexually assaulted the girl in a class for special-education students at Southeast Middle School while the teacher in the room did nothing to help her. The attack did not involve rape.

School system officials declined to comment yesterday about why the appeal was dropped. Schools Chief Executive Officer Andres Alonso said only, "I hope for the well-being of the family and child."

The family's lawyer, H. Richard Duden, received notice of the system's action yesterday.

"It's a small measure of vindication for what [Banks] and her daughter have been through, but at the same time, it's the maximum amount of monetary recovery that the law allows," Duden said.

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