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Disabled girl suffered ‘horrific’ sexual abuse, rape on school bus, suit claims

The 14-year-old girl in Georgia was repeatedly abused and ultimately raped on the bus by other students while the driver failed to intervene, a federal lawsuit claims.

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A Georgia middle-school girl with special needs was allegedly sexually assaulted and raped by other students on a school bus as the driver failed to intervene, the girl's mother claims in a federal lawsuit.

The abuse, described as "horrific," happened on a nearly daily basis from April 4 to April 20, 2019, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Northern District of Georgia against the Fulton County School District.

The 14-year-old girl, who is identified as "Jane Doe" in court documents, has suffered from physical and mental disabilities since birth and has trouble interacting and communicating with others, according to the suit.

"She has and continues to have neurodevelopmental disabilities that impede and limit her physical and mental capabilities. Doe functions at a cognitive and communicative level far below her actual age," the lawsuit states, describing her as a sweet girl with a "young, child-like nature."

The suit states that on April 4, 2019, a special-needs student left his seat on the bus to sit next to the victim and then groped her breasts before returning to his seat.

"Emboldened by the lack of discipline and restraint," a second student then got up, sat next to the girl and groped her, the suit says. The lawsuit goes on to describe several more incidents in which the second student allegedly assaulted and ultimately raped the girl.

On April 10, a few days after the first encounter, the boy allegedly exposed himself to the girl and forced her to touch him while he groped her, the suit claims. The following day, he removed the girl's shirt and groped her, according to the lawsuit.

Over the next several days "without the intervention of the bus driver," the boy continued to inappropriately touch the girl, expose himself to her and force her to engage in sexual activities. On April 20, 2019, the boy allegedly groped the girl, removed all of her clothing and then raped her on the bus, the suit states.

According to the lawsuit, the bus the students were on is equipped with a wide-safety mirror as well as audio and video surveillance so the driver can monitor what's going on. The bus is also small with only 3 or 4 rows of seats, the suit says.

"The Bus driver, in this case, was completely derelict in his duties and repeatedly exhibited a willful and deliberate indifference to maintaining student discipline and ensuring student safety," the lawsuit reads.

"The multiple acts of sexual assault and rape over a period of almost two weeks could not have taken place without the knowledge and/or deliberate indifference of the bus driver, who never once intervened to protect Doe," it continues.

The driver did not report any of the assaults until the day the girl was raped, when he told the school district that he had "noticed something," the suit claims. According to NBC affiliate WXIA in Atlanta, Fulton County Schools said the driver was "immediately separated from the district."

A district spokesman told NBC News on Saturday that the allegations detailed in the suit are "extremely serious and concerning to the district."

"Because we are dealing with minor students, this is a particularly sensitive matter. We need to allow any ongoing investigations to be complete and respect the privacy of all students allegedly involved," spokesman Brian Noyes said.

The girl’s mother took her daughter to receive medical care, where a physician confirmed she had been raped, according to the lawsuit. She now suffers from emotional distress and is seeking damages.