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Civil rights group files lawsuit in McClatchy High alleged gang rape

Gloria Razo holds a sign as students walk out in to protest C.K. Mclatchy High School staff's lack of action when it comes to sexual harassment on March 21.
Gloria Razo holds a sign as students walk out in to protest C.K. Mclatchy High School staff's lack of action when it comes to sexual harassment on March 21.

A former C.K. McClatchy High School student who alleged that she was drugged and gang-raped by classmates at a party two years ago has filed a lawsuit against Sacramento City Unified School District, four members of the school staff and its former school resource officer.

The lawsuit was filed on March 20 in Sacramento Superior Court on behalf of the now 19-year-old graduate by Equal Rights Advocates, a San Francisco civil rights organization that focuses on sexual harassment. The suit seeks unspecified damages and for the school district to change its policies and practices to conform to state and federal laws on gender discrimination.

A story about the proposed lawsuit in the Sacramento Bee last week resulted in hundreds of McClatchy High School students walking out of class in protest Wednesday. The students are demanding that the district make changes in how it deals with sexual harassment and assault reports.

The lawsuit alleges that the school district failed to investigate the rape of the then-17-year-old girl or to end the bullying and harassment that followed when she returned to the Land Park school.

It says the district did not provide the teenager with information about her right to file criminal charges against her assailants or about other resources available to survivors of sexual assault. Instead, the suit says, school officials required her to leave school for the remainder of the semester because her presence was distracting to other students.

The teenager and her family also were repeatedly misled about the status of the investigation and her grades, according to the complaint.

"The district denies these allegations," district spokesman Alex Barrios said Monday. "As the matter is now in litigation, the district will respond through the legal process. The safety and well-being of all students is a top priority at our schools. We take very seriously the work of making student support services available to students when they are facing a crisis in their lives and we are currently engaged in discussions with McClatchy students and families about what more can be done to communicate the supports that are available to students."

In June 2016, the high school junior attempted suicide. She was hospitalized and diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to court documents. She had to quit her job as a hostess at a restaurant, which helped support her family.

The suit names the school district, as well as assistant principal Matthew Schlager, Student Support Center coordinator Iyuanna Pease, counselor Megan Molina, school social worker Mirna Perez and former School Resource Officer Joe Brown.

McClatchy staff are on spring break this week and could not be reached for comment. Sacramento police spokesman Vance Chandler said Brown would not be able to comment because of the pending litigation and because the case involved allegations of sexual abuse of a juvenile.

A police report was filed about the incident in May, Officer Eddie Macaulay, Sacramento Police Department spokesman, told The Bee earlier this month. He said the incident was investigated and that no arrests were made. He couldn't provide additional details about the report because of the pending litigation and nature of the case, he said.

"When our client was sexually assaulted, she was forced to leave school and then subjected to months of bullying and harassment," said Jennifer Reisch, legal director for Equal Rights Advocates. "No one at C.K. McClatchy or SCUSD took her pleas for help or the harm she was suffering seriously. She does not want that to happen to anyone else."

Reisch said the relief the organization is seeking could include new policies on sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, required notice to students and parents of their rights and of how to file reports, mandatory training for school staff, students and parents and new procedures for reporting, investigation and taking corrective action in response to reports of sexual harassment.

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