• A Missouri teen with autism and several other disorders got raped in September 2020 and January 2022
  • The schools where the incidents happened were both operated by the Wentzville School District
  • A lawsuit is now seeking at least $52.5 million in damages from the school district and an official 

A Missouri school district and one of its officials are being sued for more than $50 million after a female student with autism got raped twice during school hours in the past two years, court documents showed.

The girl, identified only as Mary Doe, was first raped on Sept. 11, 2020, while she was attending Holt High School (HHS), operated by the Wentzville School District (WSD), a 23-page complaint shared by 5 On Your Side said.

Doe, then 15, had autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, congenital hypotonia, static encephalopathy, mood disorder with problems with transitions, depression, Tourette's syndrome and absence seizure, according to the suit filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on April 22.

All staff members at HHS that were supposed to be monitoring the teen had failed to notice and report she was missing on the day she was raped despite the classroom teachers having a routine and mandatory attendance requirements.

Doe's maternal grandmother and legal guardian, named only in the complaint as Jane Doe, contacted the Wentzville Police Department (WPD) after a coach at HHS reported Mary missing.

Authorities were able to find Mary at a residence located two miles from the school hours after she was reported missing. The teen's breath smelled of alcohol, her blouse was inside out, and her underwear was found inside her backpack.

Mary was taken to St. Louis Children's Hospital the next morning, where a physician confirmed she had been sexually assaulted.

The student who raped her also attended HHS, the WPD determined.

Mary was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and provided counseling services after the incident.

She received home-bound education between the rape incident and April 2021, when she started attending North Point High School (NPHS), another school operated by the WSD.

Jane and an advocate from the Family Advocacy and Community Training (FACT), a nonprofit organization that provides advocacy services to parents of children with disabilities, repeatedly requested for a paraeducator to be provided to Mary for her safety and support, but the WSD refused each time.

As Mary experienced "behavioral problems" after attending NPHS, Jane and her FACT advocate also asked in late 2021 for the teen to be restricted from communicating with other students using her school-provided Chromebook laptop, a request that the school district also turned down.

"We've got eyes on [Mary] from the time she gets off the bus until the time she gets back on the bus," WSD Director and Coordinator for Special Education Laurie Berry said in a meeting on Jan. 27.

An older student at NPHS, who also had autism, raped Mary in one of the school’s female restrooms on Jan. 28, the day after the meeting, according to the lawsuit.

The WSD did not report the incident to the WPD, and they suspended Mary from school for 10 days over the incident since it allegedly violated the Student Code of Conduct.

The school district claimed Mary had consented and arranged to have sex with the student through her laptop. They also "expressed the belief that because [she] had just turned 16 on Jan. 28, it was not a criminal act."

People who are 16 cannot consent to sex with anyone more than four years older than them under Missouri law.

Jane and her daughter are now seeking at least $52.5 million in damages collectively from the WSD and Berry over the two rape incidents.

The lawsuit accused WSD of violating the Americans With Disabilities Act and 42 U.S.C. § 12182, 29 U.S.C. § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, while the school district and Berry were accused of violating 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Berry also faces two counts of Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress.

School administrators and staff "completely ignored" their legal duty to act as reporters as mandated under Missouri law, the complaint alleged.

“No reason at all existed why Mary had not been provided a paraeducator... the only catch was that a paraeducator costs money, and Defendants did not want to spend it on Mary," the suit added.

When asked for comment, WSD Chief Communications Officer, Brynne Cramer, issued a statement Thursday, saying, "The Wentzville School District cares deeply about the safety and well-being of its students. Because of the litigation referenced, we are unable to comment further."

Representation. A Missouri teen, who has autism, was allegedly raped by her schoolmates in two separate occasions. Pexels/Pixabay