Seven St. Mary's High School students had sexual contact with a female student in a boys' locker room four years ago, and the school responded by expelling the girl instead of calling police, according to a new Child Victims Act lawsuit filed Friday.
The plaintiff, who was not identified in public records, alleged in the lawsuit that she was a minor who was left unsupervised with the seven students in a locker room of the Lancaster school on Feb. 9, 2016. The students, who were not identified, had unpermitted sexual contact with her, she alleged.
The seven students had been recruited to St. Mary's to play on the school's sports teams, the lawsuit alleges.
Instead of reporting the incident to police, school officials expelled the girl two weeks after the incident, the lawsuit claims.
The girl sued the Buffalo Diocese and St. Mary's High School under the Child Victims Act. The case alleges that the diocese and the school were negligent in failing to supervise the seven students, that they knew or should have known of other similar incidents involving the seven students, that they failed to protect the girl, and that they retaliated against the girl.
A spokesman for the Buffalo Diocese said that St. Mary's High administrators followed their own guidelines in handling the case, but the school could not legally answer The Buffalo News' questions about its handling of the incident.
"It is our understanding that the matter in question was handled by school administrators, according to the guidelines and protocols governing the conduct of students and disciplinary measures. It is important to note that under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the school, faculty, administrators and board are prohibited from commenting on disciplinary matters pertaining to its students," said Greg Tucker, the diocese spokesman.
He noted that St. Mary's has operated as an independent high school for decades. The school leases its building from the diocese but has its own corporate structure and board of trustees.
Steve Boyd, the plaintiff's attorney, noted that because of the girl's age and the date of the incident, she would not have been barred by the statute of limitations from filing the lawsuit even if the Child Victims Act had not been passed, opening a one-year window for childhood sexual abuse victims to file claims for damages due to decades-old abuse.
Boyd said he could not comment further on the case.
Administrators of St. Mary's High did not respond to a message seeking their comments.
Story topics: Child Victims Act