In January 2013, a woman wearing a burqa walked into a classroom in West Philadelphia’s Bryant Elementary School and walked out with a 5-year-old girl who wasn’t her child, as seen in this school surveillance image. Before the girl was found the next day, half-naked and shivering in the rain, she’d been sexually assaulted. And now, the mother of the young girl is suing the School District of Philadelphia, the School Reform Commission, and the teacher who released the girl to the abductor.
Attorney Thomas Kline of Kline & Specter filed the lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday, alleging that the defendants violated the girl’s civil rights of liberty, privacy and bodily integrity.
According to the lawsuit, the abductor, Christina Regusters, went into the girl’s classroom at Bryant, where she encountered the teacher, Reginald Littlejohn, who asked for identification and verification that the girl was to be released into Regusters’ care. Regusters produced neither, claims the suit, but “Littlejohn recklessly and willfully released [her] into Regusters’ custody.”
The suit goes on to claim that the harm that the girl was exposed to “was foreseeable and direct in that they were aware that releasing pupils to unidentified and otherwise unverified adults would result in harm to those pupils, including but not limited to sexual assualt … Littlejohn’s willful release of [her] to an unidentified adult created a degree of culpability that shocks the conscience.”
Regusters is behind bars in lieu of $4 million bail, awaiting trial for aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, and false imprisonment, among other charges.
“It is our practice not to comment on ongoing litigation,” says School District spokesman Fernando Gallard.
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