Rhode Island lawsuit: School staff ‘turned a blind eye’ to assaults leading up to student’s rape

The Pawtucket Learning Academy student is seeking $3.5 million in damages.

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP) — Nine teachers and staff members have been added to a lawsuit filed by a Rhode Island student who says officials knew about a pattern of sexual harassment and molestations at the school where she was raped.

WPRI-TV reported Thursday the lawsuit says the defendants, including Superintendent Patti DiCenso and Pawtucket Learning Academy Principal Linda Gifford “turned a blind eye” to several other assaults before the girl was raped by another student at the school in 2016.

The girl also says her civil rights were violated under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded programs.

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She is seeking $3.5 million in damages.

A spokesperson for the school department says it “vigorously denies the allegations.”

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Information from: WPRI-TV, http://www.wpri.com