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Lawsuit claims Philly charter school suspended student after she was sexually assaulted

Incident involved an eighth grade boy and a seventh grade girl

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

A new federal lawsuit alleges that Philadelphia’s largest charter company failed to properly investigate a sexual assault inside one of its schools. The claim suggests the network has systemic deficiencies in its treatment of sexual assault cases.

Mastery Charter Schools — which runs 24 schools and educates 14,000 students in Pennsylvania and New Jersey — denied the claims and said the lawsuit is based on an “incorrect set of facts.”

The case centers on a 2016 incident in Mastery’s Pastorius-Richardson Elementary, located in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.

After an eighth grade boy and seventh grade girl had sex in the school auditorium, video of the encounter circulated among other students. Mastery suspended both students after concluding that the sex was consensual, but the female student alleges in a lawsuit that she did not consent to the encounter or to the video taken by her alleged assailant.

Her grandmother, who is her legal guardian, has now sued Mastery, claiming it failed to properly investigate the incident. She’s seeking unspecified damages.

“The school and its administrators sought to deflect blame for their own failures and made the determination, based on a bogus and faulty investigation, that the sexual incident was consented to by the 13-year-old girl and blamed her for the incident, further victimizing her in the process,” the lawsuit stated.

Read the rest of this story at WHYY News

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