WEST LOS ANGELES -- Phobias, nightmares and acting out. That's how baffled parents described the behavior of their once joyful 13-year-old boy. He is deaf and could not explain. Then came the call from his school.
"My son was raped. He was forced to participate in oral sex," his mother Geneva White-Sosanya said.
She and her husband Tunde Sosanya have filed a lawsuit claiming negligence.
They had enrolled their son at the California School for the Deaf in Riverside, an institution that brings special-needs students from across the state to live on campus. Supervisors used computerized surveillance to help monitor students, especially at night.
"My son was bullied. He was forced. He was drug from his bed at night and this happened while the randomized computer checks were in place," said the distraught mother.
The parents were especially disturbed by how long the school waited to notify them of the attack. They were contacted three months after it happened and had not been present to comfort him when he was questioned by investigators. The school told the parents that seven other students were also involved.
"Gut wrenching," the boy's father Tunde Sosanya said. "I was with my wife when we got that news. My wife broke down crying."
Because the state operates the school, the California Highway Patrol and Child Protective Services were called to conduct a criminal investigation into what the Sosanya's attorney says was a sex club.
The alleged ringleader was a 15-year-old student named in the lawsuit as "John Roe." Investigators said they were unable to obtain enough evidence to press charges. They reported some acts may have been consensual, a finding rejected by the couple's lawyer.
"The issue about consent or not? These kids are 13, 14, 15-year-old boys. There is no consent," attorney Candice Klein-Pereira says.
The suit portrays "John Roe" as the classic bully.
"He would threaten them and then tell them, 'If you don't say it was consensual, I am going to say that you are the one who did that, you are the one who is performing these acts, that you are the one who is doing this," Klein-Pereira said.
It has been a nightmare for the West Los Angeles couple who adopted their son as a baby, knowing he was deaf.
"He was a gift to us. We adopted him at seven days old," Tunde Sosanya said.
Among their questions now: were other vulnerable special-needs children victimized?
"This investigation has uncovered hundreds and I am not even exaggerating -- hundreds of different sexual acts between these boys. So if the school is allowing this many events to take place, where is the protection?" asked Klein-Pereira.
The California Department of Education issued a statement: "We reviewed our policies and practices, conducted additional staff training and implemented additional procedures that provide even more safeguards for students. The CSDR is deeply concerned by these allegations. We are doing everything in our power to maintain a safe learning environment for our students."
The alleged ringleader was expelled after earlier suspensions. The Sosanyas say he is now enrolled in a Los Angeles public school. null
Deaf student allegedly raped as part of Riverside school sex club
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