SUFFOLK, Va. – The family of a seven-year-old child with autism is calling for more supervision and harsher punishment after they said their Pioneer Elementary School student was sexually assaulted on a school bus.
According to the family, they were first told about the situation on March 16 but said the assault occurred on March 2. The family told News 3 they watched surveillance video of the incident. In the video, they said you can see two older female students take the 7-year-old’s backpack and coat. When the 7-year-old went to get her belongings back, they said she was pulled into the seat with the girls. Then, a coat is put up over the seats, blocking the view of the camera. The family said the coat remained up for 10 minutes.
The family said their daughter did not immediately tell them what happened. They were alerted by a teacher after a student on the bus reported what happened.
When the family asked their daughter about the incident, they said she began crying and reported being hurt “down there”.
While meeting with administration on March 16 the family said they identified their daughter’s underwear as a pair that was found on the bus. The student’s uncle says he called police and reported the incident. They said it was the first time police were contacted about the incident. The 7-year-old student was taken to the hospital for a full exam.
Suffolk Police confirm that they took a report of alleged sexual battery on March 16 concerning students on a Pioneer Elementary School bus. They said they are continuing their investigation.
A spokesperson with Suffolk Schools said they began investigating the incident as soon as administrators were notified. Below is their statement to News 3 regarding the situation.
“Suffolk Public Schools started investigating an incident of possible inappropriate contact between three girls on a bus– as soon as administrators were made aware. The alleged incident happened Friday, March 2. Administrators were notified Monday, March 5. Part of that investigation included reviewing bus videotape and interviewing the bus driver and students on the bus. As you know, sometimes putting the pieces together for a complete picture takes some time. The school investigation is continuing. Some disciplinary action has been applied to two students based on their initial statements, but additional disciplinary action may be pending."
The family said they are too scared to send their daughter back to school and want to see more disciplinary action taken towards the other female students. They also said they want the bus driver to be punished for not immediately telling administration after their daughter’s underwear was found on the bus.
While they are devastated by what they said happened to their student, they hope this will be a learning opportunity for other parents to talk to their children about sexual assault.