Lawsuit claims school mishandled complaint of sexual contact by accused bully

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Disturbing accusations from parents at a Fresno school. They claim an eight-year-old bully had sexual contact with their kids and the school didn't do anything about it. A lawsuit filed this week accuses the school of basically sweeping the problem under the rug. But administrators said they did everything right.

The St. Anthony's Campus didn't feel like a safe place anymore to a couple boys as of a few months ago. The seven and eight-year-olds told their parents another boy bullied them, and the trouble included comments and acts of a sexual nature. The parents took it up with school administrators, and from there, ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi said two things needed to happen. "Once the school is put on notice, one, they have to notify the police, and two, they should do something to make sure this doesn't happen again."

The parents feel neither of those things happened, so they filed a lawsuit accusing the school of negligence. Their attorney, Warren Paboojian, told Action News "The school failed to properly report it and conducted their own investigation, Which was inadequate."

A Fresno police investigation is underway now, but how it started may be part of the lawsuit. "A parent called and it was a general complaint, possible child molest, inappropriate touching type complaint," said Lt. Joe Gomez, Fresno Police Department.

Not only do the parents believe they had to call the police to get the investigation started, but the lawsuit claims the incidents happened in November. Police said the call came a month later. "And that was on December 20th when we got that call and started the investigation," said Gomez.

The Catholic Diocese and its schools haven't been served with the lawsuit yet, but superintendent, Mona Faulkner, told us, "Fresno police visited the school in January and were satisfied with our safety and security procedures."

When we asked her whether the suspected abuse or molestation was reported, she simply said all protocols were followed.

Detectives have only interviewed one of the kids so far, and with children this young, Capozzi said, it's uncommon to see criminal charges filed.
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