Girl allegedly fondled on bus sues student, bus driver, school board

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Parents of a former 14-year-old Riverdale High School student who accused another student of sexually assaulting her on a school bus filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Wednesday against him, the school board and bus driver.

The lawsuit naming the girl as Mary Doe and her parents as John and Jane Doe alleges student Brandon Stover, 18, the Rutherford County Board of Education and bus driver Joe Daniel Bond violated her civil rights to get a public education and rights to travel to and from school safely. The family does not ask for a specific amount of damages.

Also, the lawsuit filed by attorney Jay Jackson of Murfreesboro accused the school board of violating the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment by “failing to take sufficient measures to prevent defendant Stover from maliciously confronting and harassing the plaintiff May Doe after her return to school.”

The 14-year-old student accused the boy of fondling her when they rode the bus Feb. 20, 2008. A videotape recorded on a Rutherford County school bus showed the boy sat next to her and sexually assaulted her while she cried "no," the lawsuit stated.

Stover of Odessa Drive faces a criminal trial in March on charges of three counts of sexual battery, one count of attempted sexual battery and one count of assault.

Schools’ spokesman James Evans said the board has not been served with the lawsuit yet.

“As standard protocol, we don’t comment on pending litigation,” Evans said.

The lawsuit stated the girl was seated on the bus when Stover sat beside her, harassed her and touched her in inappropriate sexual ways without her consent while she repeatedly asked him to stop.

“While the assault was occurring, other students were aware of the events that were occurring,” the lawsuit stated. “One of the students tried to get defendant Stover to stop but the student was unsuccessful.”

After Stover exited, the girl told the bus driver. The lawsuit stated Bond had the ability to see Stover’s actions but failed to act or stop the assault.

A bus camera videotaped the incident. Bond obtained a copy of the incident and gave it to Riverdale Principal Tom Nolen. Because of the trauma, the girl did not return to school for two days.

When she returned, she learned Stover was allowed to “freely roam the hallways without supervision. … As a result, Mr. Stover was able to confront Ms. Doe. This confrontation had the affect of furthering the severe trauma she had already undergone.”

After reporting the incident, she was allowed to transfer to another school where her identity as a sexual assault victim was supposed to be kept confidential by the new principal and school board as required by state law.

The new principal informed teachers who were able to identify her as a sexual assault victim to further traumatize her, the lawsuit stated.

She and her parents suffered damages of severe emotional distress, personal injuries, “extreme and outrageous conduct on the part of defendant Stover,” medical expenses and pain and suffering, the lawsuit stated.

Bond failed to supervise students on the bus while the board allowed Stover to confront the girl, the lawsuit stated. The board failed to keep her information confidential.

“The Rutherford County School Board allowed a copy of the tape of the incident on the bus which shows the sexual assault to be made known to other employees and administrators within the Rutherford County School Board who were not privileged to see said information,” the lawsuit stated.

She and her parents requested they be awarded damages for negligence, for Stover’s actions, for violation of confidentiality and violation of federal education laws. They asked for a jury trial.

A case management conference among the attorneys was set April 13.

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Members Opinions:
February 20, 2009 at 4:22pm
I hope they win! It is an outrage that this was allowed to happen. Best of luck to the "Doe" family.
February 20, 2009 at 4:39pm
ughhhh. this situation really stinks. i hate if for this girl, and do we really need to sue? we live in such a litigious society, it makes me ill. nobody can completely protect you from anyting. sign o the times i suppose.
February 20, 2009 at 5:23pm
I hope the doe family wins all they can get. Rutherford Co. School's get away with to much as it is & they do stupid stuff to the children all the time. They think they are Above the law & put Parents in hard postions all the time for no reason. alot of the Teachers cry about not making enough money, but they send children home all the time for no reason except to make there jobs easier. Hang it to them Doe Family!
February 20, 2009 at 5:59pm
I hope this family wins as well. It is such a shame that even after the incident was reported, she gets victimized even further by the very ones who are supposed to protect her. It is so sad that it has come to the point where you can't trust the principals and teachers.
I can't count now how many teachers have gotten caught for having a relationship with their students. I am sure that the Board will find a way to get out of this. Too bad they can't be punished for once. Too bad no one has the guts to stand up for this girl and everyone other student who has been hurt. Shame on you!!!
February 20, 2009 at 6:09pm
I really can not mentally understand why sue the driver. For one, how can even the best driver carrying one to one hundred passengers know what every single person is doing and concentrate on the traffic and drive? the second, there were no contracts or rules in place requiring owners to have cameras. Even though our tax dollars goes toward the bus drivers salaries, no one person forces kids to ride, it is a priviledge for parents and children. If all owners and operators would park those buses for a day, even a week until parents, drivers and students can come to a solution to work together, then I imagine someone will start getting their act together.
February 20, 2009 at 6:52pm

I agree that we live in an extremely litigious society, but this lawsuit is justified. A woman spilling hot coffee on her lap and winning millions in damages is one thing, a 14 year old child being sexually assulted on a county school bus is quite another.

I'm not sure I agree with including the school board and driver on the lawsuit, but Brandon Stover should be held responsible for his actions and made to pay restitution to this girl.
February 20, 2009 at 7:10pm
I doubt the school board can be held liable for this one. We as adults should be supportive of the driver and the school board, no matter what our opinion of both really are. This is an example of raping someone and blaming the doctor, the nurse and medical review board because I failed to take my medication. In reality, the boy is guilty and needs to pay the price. I suspect the girls parents is pushing this one.
February 20, 2009 at 8:05pm
The driver should be included. Who cares what the "rules" are! There was a child on the bus he chose to drive and has a basic moral obligation as the owner and as an adult human to help a child who is crying for help. If you saw the video there is NO question he knew and chose to do NOTHING!
February 20, 2009 at 8:40pm
Yes emw247, if I saw the video. I know what morale obligation a driver has, it is to get the kids back and forth to school safely. However, the driver probably saw the video after he was finished delivering children and at home with bus parked, off the busy roads. What you do not know is how many kids were on the bus and how loud they were. I can only imagine what a day in the life for you is with "who cares what the rules are", know what positon you are in and the protocols are along with policies and procedures. The in simpliest form what the most important one task this driver done first and that was getting the kids home first. You drive a bus and then tell me what you can see and hear while driving. So no, the driver should not be liable for any wrong doing just to suit people that do not know what the job entails.
February 20, 2009 at 8:48pm
I know a lady that has a bus and yes drove for her. I would be real happy to show you hands on a general detail experience what the job consists of and what you can and can not hear or see from the drivers seat or what the camera in motion records. You will be suprised. That is if you care.
February 21, 2009 at 1:16am
I would not drive a school bus if you paid me 2 yrs.salary a year to do it! Children are products of their environments...parents, it's time we all stand up and take responsibility for our children...stop blaming teachers, principals, drivers, etc. Yes, these people need to be good examples and do what is right, but it is NOT the responsibility of others to teach morals and basic manners to our own children.
February 21, 2009 at 8:27am
From what I understand there has not been a trial yet. How can you sue someone and not know what anyone is being accused of? What everyone needs to know is that everyone has been distressed over this. I know the Stover family and they are good people. We raise our kids with morals and kids fooling around with each other is just a normal thing. What kids do when they aren't with us is something else and if you think that your child is perfect when they are out of your sight, think again. What did you do when you were young, but it wasn't called rape, sexual battery, etc. Do you know how this has affected all of the Stover family, not just the John Doe family? Quit being judges unless you have graduated from a law school! Let the courts do their thing. And instead of crucifying these people, remember that Jesus died on the cross, He was crucified for our sins. Why don't you try PRAYING for everyone involved in this situation. No matter what, we are all children of God.
February 21, 2009 at 9:12am
The boy did something he was not supposed to. We are not living in the days of the past and for every action taken there is reaction. We as society just can not hold every little personor persons accountable for what has happened today. This guy should be the one to hold accountable for this little situation. Maybe the alleged victim is this story had something to do with this also.
February 21, 2009 at 9:52am
Thanks a lot to this family for punishing me. Im glad that my tax dollars will fund your new trust fund.

Can you not just see the boy's punishment through? Is it necessary to blame everyone and anyone?

The following comment will generate flames I am sure but it is a relevent question.

Do the parents of the girl have any responsibility to teach her how to handle situations like this? Do they not have some shared responsibility in helping to keep their daughter safe? Helping to prepare her for life in the bid bad world?

This is so stupid. Another reason why I hate lawyers.
February 21, 2009 at 8:28pm
So HuskyLover you are saying that Stover was wrong in what he did but you are condoning it by hoping he is violated. Two wrongs don't make a right! Think about your stupidity.
February 21, 2009 at 9:11pm
grampa1, after reading your ignorant, simplistic initial post, my opinion is that you have no place to be calling someone else stupid.

I was far from the best behaved child, but neither I nor my friends ever fondled one another in a sexual manner when we were young kids and even though most of us were sexually active at 18, we knew enough to know that 14 is far too young and NO MEANS NO!

I don't know what your definition of 'morals' is, but if you think of Brandon Stover as a normal, well-adjusted kid who was raised with morals then I'll certainly be praying for YOU tomorrow.

February 22, 2009 at 8:20am
Librarian- You are so right!!
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