Victim's Family Files Lawsuit Against Ponca City Schools After Alleged Sexual Assault
PONCA CITY, Oklahoma - A family has filed a lawsuit that claims Ponca City Schools violated IX after an alleged sexual assault in June of 2017. Police reports state the incident happened during a school trip, when the boys’ varsity basketball team traveled to Jenks.
The attorney representing the alleged victim said the district failed in its response. She adds school officials were aware students used this annual trip to haze other students.
The alleged victim was 14 years old at the time of the assault.
“He was forcibly held down and was subjected to an attack by another boy,” said Paige Lee, victim’s attorney. “Two boys, one that was 17 years old, one that was 18 years old subjected him to a sexually incident.”
Police report the incident happened at Holiday Inn Express.
Initially, the family did not want to press charges, according to Ponca City Police records. However, the attorney of the family said the victims were unaware of a pattern of abuse.
Lee said she has since identified that the hazing dates back to seven years ago. She believes there is a systemic issue that was not identified because it was not properly investigated.
Lee said that she has found many victims. She believes parents should have been warned.
“Silence is dangerous. And in trying to protect our children, sometimes we think it's better to be silent,” said Lee. “My client's mother is very brave to come forward, because she realizes we got to this point because of silence.”
The district says it can't comment on an ongoing case. But issued the following statement:
“The Ponca City School District does everything it can to provide a safe learning environment for its students. Because of this, the District promptly investigates all allegations of sexual harassment and takes appropriate actions based on the results of the investigation. Since this lawsuit is ongoing, the School District cannot comment on the specific facts of this case. The School District can say that it is confident that once the facts come out in this lawsuit, that the court will find that the School District acted appropriately.”
There has not been a court date set.