Student, family sue Belleville District 201 over alleged attack

News-DemocratMay 9, 2014 

AP GRAPHICS

— A female high school student has filed a lawsuit against Belleville School District 201 and the director of the Alternative Day School Program over an alleged attack on campus.

The suit alleges the female student, who was only identified as Jane Doe in court documents, was studying in a classroom unsupervised with another student on Oct. 30, when four students entered the room and attacked a 15-year-old female student and removed her pants. The student studying with the female student who was assaulted chased off the attackers and reported the incident to program director Robert Dahm.

The attack reportedly occurred at the Alternative Day School, which is located in "T-Building" on the Belleville East High School campus.

The complaint states that one of the attackers is the same male youth who was charged with sexual assault in another case in December at the Alternative Day School. The suit does not identify the student by name or the three other alleged attackers.

At the time of the attack on Oct. 30, the suit claims "there was not a single other teacher, security officer or employee of the school present in the building," and Dahm failed to contact family members of the victim, a governmental agency or school or police officials.

Dahm could not be reached for comment. The suit is seeking damages in excess of $100,000.

Belleville School District Superintendent Jeff Dosier said he couldn't comment on pending litigation. However, he said the incident was reported to Belleville police.

Belleville Police Capt. Don Sax said an officer responded to Belleville East for a battery report on Oct. 30 which involved a physical altercation between two students. No other incidents were investigated on that date by Belleville police, according to Sax.

Dosier said both of the district's high schools work "very closely" with police through the school resource officer. Any time school officials think a law may have been broken they encourage students involved to contact police, Dosier said.

As a result of the alleged attack, the victim suffers emotional pain, humiliation and fear of going back to school, according to court documents.

"(Doe) has sustained severe and permanent bodily injury, sickness and/or disease, including but not limited to sleep disturbance, fear and anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, self-destructive behaviors, (and) substance abuse."

The victim and her family are being represented by attorneys Jarrod Beasley and Matthew Young of the Kuehn Law Firm in Belleville. Neither Beasley nor Young could be reached for comment.

In December, Belleville East student David E. Fields of Shiloh was charged with aggravated battery of a pregnant student and criminal sexual assault in connection with an attack at the Alternative Day School. The charges state Fields attacked a 17-year-old female by grabbing her hair and the back of her neck and forcibly engaging her in sexual intercourse. The charges are pending; Dosier has previously said Fields is no longer a student in District 201.

The suit, filed April 25, claims District 201:

* Allowed "a harmful environment to continue to occur in the T-Building without corrective action."

* Failed to report student sexual harassment and sexual abuse under the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act.

* Continued to allowed unsupervised conduct of students in the T-Building.

* "Established such policy, practice or custom which fostered a climate which facilitated sexual abuse of students."

Dosier said he couldn't comment on any specifics of the pending case, including whether the incident was reported to state agencies.

A representative of the Division of Children and Family Services in Illinois declined to comment regarding whether District 201 filed a report under the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act due to privacy laws.

In regards to staffing at the Alternative Day School, Dosier said seven staff members serve approximately 50-55 students. The staff includes, Dahm, the school's director.

The suit claims Dahm "failed to cure or even attempt to cure obvious and known risks to students at Belleville East High School placed in the T-Building."

District 201 is also being sued by another student identified only as Jane Doe in court documents. The ongoing lawsuit filed in 2012 alleges that District 201 was negligent in that it did not prevent its employee, Ryan D. Endsley, from having an illegal relationship with a student 17 years old or younger.

Endsley, a former Belleville West High School teacher, received 30 months' probation after pleading guilty to criminal sexual abuse, a class 4 felony. His probation runs through July 3, 2015, and he is registered as a sex offender in Illinois.

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 orjforsythe1@bnd.com. Follow her on Twitter @BND_JForsythe.