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    School didn't report molesting, suit says

    Police weren't told of a 7-year-old girl's report she was molested by a Sexton Elementary classmate in 2000.

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published February 4, 2003

    A 7-year-old girl told Pinellas school officials she was sexually molested by a fellow student in 2000, yet officials failed to report her claim to police, according to a lawsuit.

    After an investigation by the principal of Sexton Elementary School in St. Petersburg, a boy in the girl's second-grade class admitted fondling her, said a lawsuit filed last week in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court.

    The suit said principal Patricia A. Davey did not report the incident to law enforcement, a violation of School Board policy. Nor did other School Board supervisors who were later told, the lawsuit said.

    Davey could not be reached for comment on Monday. School Board attorney John Bowen said Davey did not believe the allegation and didn't think it necessary to report it to police.

    "If there was molestation, I assume the girl's parents would have called police if they felt that way," Bowen said. "If they didn't, maybe they didn't take it seriously."

    Because of the nature of the allegations, the girl and her parents are not identified in the lawsuit, which seeks damages from the School Board.

    Jeffrey Fuller, an attorney representing the girl's family, said the parents didn't call police because they assumed the school took care of it.

    The boy was assigned to a different class but not transferred from the school, which resulted in the girl encountering him and enduring taunts by his friends, the suit said.

    The girl "was afforded a one-time meeting with a guidance counselor but was otherwise afforded no counseling to deal with the traumatic results of the sexual molestation," the lawsuit said.

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