Parent Files Lawsuit Against Verona District after Daughter Sexually Assaulted in School

A parent from Verona sues the school, saying that their daughter was sexually assaulted several times there.

A mom of a young girl in elementary school says the Verona Board of Education did not do enough to keep her daughter safe from a classmate who was sexually assaulting her.

The mother is suing the board, P.A. Anthony Lanzo, Superintendent Diane DiGiuseppe, and teacher Maria Graziano for letting a male student sexually assault her daughter at least 20 times while she was in first and second grade.

According to DiGuiseppe, the board “has and continues to investigate the allegations” in the lawsuit. However, the board could not say anything else because the lawsuit is still going on.

The lawsuit, which was filed on April 22 in state Superior Court, said that the girl had PTSD because of the abuse and that the defendants were “grossly negligent and reckless” in letting it happen.

From October 2021 to January 2023, the case says, the attacks happened, and the district did nothing to stop them. Instead, it “turned a blind eye to the abhorrent discrimination” against the girl.

The claim says that the boy struck the girl at least three times in first grade and many times in second grade.

Her mother told her that the student would follow her daughter into the bathroom, which had two stalls next to each other. It said in the lawsuit that he would attack her in the bathroom by washing his hands and then climbing into her stall to “physically assault and sexually molest her.”

A girl “felt incredible fear when she saw [the male student] from under the stall and heard him washing his hands as he always did before assaulting her,” it said.

The lawsuit said that the male student would promise to hurt the girl again if she told anyone, and the girl’s mother would not be able to help her. Maria Rodgers, the school nurse, found a change in the girl’s “typically happy and sweet mood” and told one of her daughter’s first grade teachers, the mother said.

The girl’s mother told her teacher that her naughty daughter was cutting herself off from friends and that the girls were being mean to her.

Parents of the girl took her to the doctor because they saw “vaginal abrasions and raw, rubbed bleeding skin,” but she wouldn’t let the doctor do a genital check or show him. The nurse said she might have had an absence seizure and that her “stress and trauma response had inflamed her faculties to a troubling degree.” She stayed in the hospital for more than a week.

According to the lawsuit, the child had “numerous dissociative episodes” because of the sexual attacks, which made her run away from school.

The complaint says that she behaved normally over the summer, but it started up again when she started second grade. The girl got genital strep A in the fall of 2022, and her doctor asked her if she was being abused.

That she had a “visceral reaction” and wouldn’t answer, the suit said. She refused to go to the bathroom by herself, take a bath without a bathing suit, or wear dresses. She also had dreams or trouble sleeping and wouldn’t sleep by herself.

The lawsuit says she was finally taken out of F.N. Brown Elementary School so she could feel safe.

The girl’s mother allegedly talked about what happened to her daughter with Lanzo, DiGiuseppe, Graziano, and other people, according to the claim.

The family said the defendants put their daughter at risk by leaving them out of an email sent to parents of second graders, and they said the board did nothing to make sure the girl could safely go back to school.

In texts between the girl’s mother and the superintendent, the mother said the board wasn’t working with her and that she had offered medical records, releases, and other proof that her daughter had been abused, according to the lawsuit.