MARTINEZ — A former Martinez resident has sued the school district, alleging her son was sexually molested at an after-school program on the John Swett Elementary School campus.
The abuse is said to have taken place in November or December 2007 in a restroom at the school when the victim, who was then 5, was attending Woodbridge Children's Center, according to a lawsuit filed last month in Contra Costa County Superior Court. The Martinez Unified School District and Woodbridge Children's Center are named as defendants.
This newspaper is not naming the woman to protect the identity of the alleged victim.
In February, the school district denied the woman's December 2008 application to present a late claim, according to a letter from Superintendent Rami Muth. In August, Superior Court Judge Judith Craddick granted the woman's petition to present the claim.
"We were under the impression that the lawsuit had been resolved," Muth said Wednesday. She declined further comment.
According to the suit, the child was enrolled in kindergarten at John Swett and attending Woodbridge after school when he was sexually molested, perhaps on multiple occasions, by three older students.
The mother became aware of the abuse in late December 2007 and reported it to John Swett Principal Marj Pampe and former district Superintendent John Triolo the following January, according to the lawsuit. The suit claims the district did not develop a plan to protect the boy and refused to follow the mother's plan; "as a result (the boy) continued to suffer serious psychological injury through repeated contact with the molesters and abusers," the suit says.
About a year after the alleged abuse occurred, a therapist concluded the boy was displaying behavior consistent with a child sexual abuse victim.
"We certainly have evidence that some inappropriate activity occurred in this after-school program and this boy ends up having to go through counseling and change schools," said Walnut Creek attorney Jay Chafetz, who took over the woman's case this month. "It's a parent's worst nightmare."
The lawsuit states that the school district should not have allowed children of different ages at the Woodbridge Children's Center to use isolated restrooms, given previous complaints about inappropriate behavior between older and younger children. Chafetz would not elaborate on the nature of the earlier complaints.
The lawsuit claims the school district and Woodbridge were negligent by failing to protect the boy and by failing to make the restrooms safe.
The mother, who has since moved to a town in the Sierra foothills, seeks undisclosed compensatory and punitive damages from the school district.
Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Reach her at 925-943-8011.