School district settles molestation suit

Officials will review policies on abuse between schoolmates

The amount of money the Portland school district will pay the family of a girl molested by an Irvington Elementary School classmate two years ago will remain secret, according to a federal judge's ruling.

U.S. District Judge Garr King granted the request of the girl's family to keep confidential the financial settlement of the family's lawsuit against the district.

The judge wrote that he was 'persuaded by a psychologist's opinion that public knowledge of the financial terms could be detrimental to the healing of a child who has been sexually abused.'

In settling the federal lawsuit, the school district last month agreed to a financial payment to the family, agreed to apologize to the girl and her family, and agreed to 'review and revise' school district policies for reporting child-on-child sexual contact.

The family's lawsuit complaint charged that from the fall of 1999 through the spring of 2000, a second-grade male classmate coerced the first-grade girl to perform sex acts with him in a loft adjoining their classroom at Irvington in Northeast Portland.

According to the complaint, the girl told her mother about the incidents in March 2000, and the mother then told her daughter's teacher.

The complaint also alleged that the girl's teacher said she and her assistant were aware the boy had harassed another girl previously and that the teacher told the mother that school officials would take action.

However, the complaint contends, school officials continued to allow the boy to have unsupervised contact with the girl.

In May 2000, a student teacher caught the boy and another student molesting the girl, according to the complaint. The lawsuit, which sought $6 million in damages, did not name the girl or her family.

As part of the settlement, the family's lawyer asked that the financial settlement be kept confidential. The school district took no position on that request.

Oregon law allows a public agency's lawsuit settlement to remain confidential only if a judge decides that the 'privacy interests of a private individual outweigh the public's interest in the terms of the settlement.' King granted the order on Oct. 15.

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