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Local family files lawsuit against South Madison schools

Mar. 22—ANDERSON — An unidentified Madison County family has filed a lawsuit against the South Madison Community schools alleging their daughter was sexually assaulted.

In addition to the South Madison schools, the lawsuit names as defendants the Madison, Hamilton and Boone counties special cooperative.

The case was filed in Madison County but was moved to federal court at the request of the defendants.

Both the mother and her daughter are identified as Jane Doe I and Jane Doe II in the lawsuit. Their identities will be provided to defense attorneys.

The court document states that in January 2023 the daughter was involved in the Best Buddies program which is to promote inclusion of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The lawsuit states on Jan. 26, 2023, the daughter was sexually assaulted by another student at Pendleton Heights High School.

The girl reported the assault to two friends, one of whom knew of prior incidents with the male student and it was reported to Katie Neely, a special education teacher working for the cooperative.

The lawsuit states Neely contacted the parents of the male student but not the girl's parents or school administrators.

The girl's parents found out about the assault later in the day, according to the court document.

The lawsuit continues that school officials failed to take reasonable steps to minimize contact between the girl and her alleged assailant.

The lawsuit states school officials failed to immediately investigate student reports of sexual harassment and assault and failed to do an investigation in a timely manner.

The court document states school officials failed to provide reasonable care for the safety of children.

It continues that officials were aware of the boy's propensity to commit inappropriate touching of fellow students and failed to warn or supervise other students needing protection.

The legal document states Neely was not properly trained in monitoring students, preventing assaults and reporting allegations of sexual assault.

"Jane Doe I and Jane Doe II have suffered, and will in the future continue to suffer, emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of employment, counseling expenses and other past, present and future damages," it reads.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages and a jury trial in Madison County Circuit Court Division 4.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.