GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ/AP) - A west Michigan couple has filed a federal lawsuit saying their teenage daughter left her private school last year without their permission, then was repeatedly raped.
The parents are suing Hope Academy of West Michigan and the Grand Rapids police department, claiming police wrongly treated the girl’s case as a runaway.
The lawsuit claims the emotionally impaired teen, who was 14-years-old at the time, was suspended from the classroom on Jan. 23, 2012 and left school grounds. However, according to the suit, the girl was not supposed to leave the school without being signed out by one of her parents.
The girl was walking through a “dangerous neighborhood” when she was approached by a man who raped her, the lawsuit claims. The girl then was gang-raped at two other locations.
The girl was eventually to escape her captor while he slept, and she fled to an abandoned building where she hid until she was found by a man who contacted the Young Women’s Christian Association — which offers services to victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, child sexual abuse and stalking.
The parents, who reported their daughter missing, were contacted by police two days later, who informed them that their daughter had been found. During a rape examination, a nurse discovered the girl had a 2-inch plastic bottle cap lodged in her cervix, Mlive.com reported. It was removed at a local hospital.
The lawsuit says police told the parents there were inconsistencies with the girl’s account of what had happened, adding that she wouldn’t make a good witness at trial. The lawsuit claims it was ” a foregone conclusion that in the detective’s opinion this was a ‘bad girl’ or runaway, not a young girl who had been kicked out of school and raped by strangers.”
The lawsuit says the girl was hospitalized for nearly five months after the attack.
After receiving the results of DNA evidence, police say a warrant was sought for the arrest of a suspect, but the request was denied by Kent County prosecutors.
Grand Rapids City Attorney Catherine Mish told Mlive.com that the claims in the “frivolous lawsuit” have “no legal basis.”
Hope Academy declined to issue a specific comment, citing the ongoing litigation, but did say they were cooperating with the investigation.
“The safety and welfare of students remain our top priority,” Superintendent Heidi Cate said in a statement.
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