In lawsuit, family of 9th grader raped at gunpoint on campus says attack could have been prevented
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Department of Education is being sued over the violent rape of a ninth grade girl at McKinley High School last year.
Attorneys for the girl’s family said the school’s lax security allowed another ninth grader ― armed with a handgun and an ax ― to sneak her into an unsupervised bathroom.
They also said school officials mishandled the incident and kept it secret from the school community.
This lawsuit said that on Feb. 11, 2021, the ninth grade suspect showed his classmate a handgun tucked in his waistband. He then lured her into a restroom in a building at the corner of the campus, nearest King and Pensacola streets, where he sexually assaulted her.
According to her attorneys, another student who was a friend of the suspect, told authorities he heard what was going on. “She was saying stop, stop, let me go, let me out of here,” attorney Thomas Otake said.
Otake said it was the freshman girl’s first day on campus after months of online learning so she didn’t know the remote building might not be safe. But attorneys for the girl’s family claimed the school did know the risks.
“There were policies that existed that required doors to be locked and the facility to be secured because the school knew it to be a dangerous,” said attorney Blaine Rogers, “and that also did not occur.”
The lawsuit also said school officials knew the boy “was aggressive and violent towards others. He was unpredictable, had no fear of authority and disregarded right from wrong.”
Rogers said that was the second big failure.
“They allowed him to remain on campus unsupervised and on the day of the incident he had with him on campus a gun and an ax,” he said.
The lawsuit said before the day of the assault the boy told a vice principal that he kept a gun for protection.
The suit also says the girl called her mother immediately after the assault. She told her daughter to report it to administrators, which the girl did.
Administrators called police, but also tried to handle the suspect themselves, the suit says.
“Not a school lockdown nothing,” Rogers said. “Rather, the boy was talked to by a behavioral specialist.”
Attorneys said the boy fled the specialist for long enough to hide both weapons, which the police later recovered.
The McKinley campus and community were never informed of the incident.
“Even if you are a parent of another child who was there, of course I would imagine they would want to know about this,” Otake said.
The DOE said it couldn’t comment because of the lawsuit, but the attorneys said the complaint is based mostly on facts in the DOE’s own investigation provided to the family.
The family was also told that the boy was prosecuted in family court.
Otake said he could not reveal what happened in the confidential juvenile criminal case, but said “our clients were satisfied with the way that prosecution was handled and the result.”
He said the public is safe from the defendant.
Meanwhile, Rogers said the victim is attending a different school.
“She’s doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances she is a strong and talented young lady,” he said.
The lawsuit asks the court to declare the state negligent and demands general and special damages for the victim’s pain and injuries and the trauma to her and her family. The attorneys said the family primarily hopes the lawsuit is a reminder to officials of their responsibility to keep children safe.
“It’s more than just an expectation we have as parents,” Otake said. “It’s actually a legal duty and a responsibility under the law.”
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