San Diego

Mother Claims Sexual Assault of Disabled Student Was Mishandled

A claim filed against San Diego Unified School District by a parent says authorities failed to properly prevent and report an alleged assault of her son in a bathroom at Lincoln High.

The mother of a severely disabled former Lincoln High student told NBC7 she feels betrayed by her son's school.

Eileen Sofa said it was incredibly difficult to speak to NBC 7 about her son's possible assault, but decided to because she says her son cannot speak for himself.

"He won't tell you if he's hurting or if he's sick. He can't tell you that," Sofa said. NBC 7 is not naming either child involved in the incident. "My son is not going to tell you if somebody touched him or did something bad to him."

Her claims against the San Diego Police Department and the school district raise questions about the initial handling of the case when a teacher's aide reported seeing her son assaulted in the bathroom by another student with special educational needs.

Sofa said no one from Lincoln High school told her exactly what happened to her son in the bathroom back in August 2016.

Instead, she says, school officials told her the opposite, that a teacher's aide walked in just in time before her son had been hurt.

In police and school reports, obtained and viewed exclusively by NBC 7, the teacher's aide reported seeing a student sodomize her son.

According to a school police report, the juvenile suspect admitted to sexually assaulting Eileen's son, stating he didn't know why he did what he did.

The claim filed against the school district says a San Diego Unified school district police officer failed to tell the mother "the true facts of what [the teacher's aide] saw when he walked into the bathroom." 

The claim also says the school knew the suspect had "a history of sexually inappropriate and violent behavior."

"They sat there and lied to me about it," Sofa said. "They told me the teacher walked in and nothing happened."

School and police reports show the alleged assault happened on August 3.

The claim says no report was made to the student's parents or school police until August 4.

On August 4, a Lincoln High administrator called campus police to report the assault, according to a report by school police.

On August 5, two days after the alleged incident, campus police forwarded their findings to the San Diego Police Department's sex crime unit, according to Sofa's claim.

Neither agency submitted the case to the District Attorney's office for prosecution.

"I feel betrayed by the school," Sofa told NBC 7.

The school officer labeled his report "miscellaneous," so it did not turn up in a search for alleged sex assaults at Lincoln High.

A school district spokesman sent NBC 7 the following statement before the claim was filed:

“The safety of students is our top priority. Our department follows all protocols when it comes to any allegations of wrongdoing. We conducted a preliminary investigation and forwarded our findings to SDPD, which is handling any follow-up investigation. All inquiries about this matter should be directed to SDPD.”

The woman also filed a claim against the city, naming the San Diego Police Department. She says SDPD denied her copies of all police reports regarding the sexual assault of her son.

An SDPD spokesman told us before the claim was filed that police conducted a thorough and complete investigation.

NBC 7 first started asking questions about the year-old case in mid-October 2017.  

After that, the San Diego Police Department sent a detective to interview the victim's mother again.

An SDPD spokesman told NBC 7 the police department did the second interview to ensure the investigation had been thorough and complete.

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