Jury awards $28M to former Mount Vernon special needs student in rape suit

WHITE PLAINS — A former Mount Vernon student, whose name will remain anonymous for her own safety, has been awarded $28 million in damages she suffered as a student at Mount Vernon High school.

Her lawyers claim that in Dec. 2011, the 14-year-old special-ed student did not receive the required supervision to make sure she got on the bus home and wandered off campus where she was lured into a man’s apartment and raped.

As the school year continued, so did the lack of supervision by the school, according to her attorneys, the young girl was bullied, harassed, and violently assaulted in the girls’ locker room.

“You can’t imagine having to go through the trauma that she went through,” said attorney Andrews Buzin said. “It was every single day she was in school from the time that she started until the time that she had to leave because she was attacked in the locker room, her head was bashed against the benches, she had missing chunks of her hair gone.”

Her attorneys spoke outside the county courthouse in White Plains on Monday, describing how it feels seven years later to win for the young girl who is now a young adult.

“This was a school that was neglectful every step of the way and that’s the way the jury saw it,” attorney Jordan Merson said. “The jury’s award, the amount of the award is in part to the fact that a young girl cannot be damaged more than our client but it also sends a message to the school that the neglect was overwhelming. The degree of incompetence was overwhelming.”

The Mount Vernon School District is unhappy with the jury’s decision. In a statement released on Monday, district officials said, “The Mount Vernon City School District respectfully disagrees with the jury’s verdict. We are considering our options moving forward.”

Because of the young girl’s neuro-cognitive issues, to this day, they have been unable to identify the man who assaulted her.

The verdict is believed to be one of the largest physical and sexual assault verdicts in New York State history.