BELEN — The parent of a Belen Middle School student has filed suit alleging the district didn’t protect their daughter from another student who allegedly touched her breasts repeatedly and threatened to rape her.
According to the lawsuit filed against Belen Consolidated Schools on Sept. 23 in the 13th Judicial District Court, in December 2021 a male student identified by the fictitious name of John Smith allegedly began harassing and bullying the then 14-year-old girl, identified in the filing as Jane Doe, by calling her a pejorative name for lesbian.
The boy escalated his behavior, according to the court document, targeting the girl physically and verbally based on her “actual or perceived sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or other distinguishing characteristic,” the lawsuit claims.
During class, the boy would allegedly touch Doe without her consent, including walking behind her and rubbing her shoulders and, on multiple instances, coming up behind her as she sat at her desk and touching her breast.
The suit claims in March, during class, with the teacher and other students present, the boy put a marker between his legs and pretended to rape the girl while she was standing bent over a table helping another student.
The boy’s behavior continued, the suit claims, and Smith began to threaten Jane Doe, and threatened to rape her multiple times.
“A week or two after the March incident, following a supportive conversation with another student who had faced a similar issue, Jane Doe spoke about the incident with a teacher at Belen Middle School…,” the court document say.
According to the lawsuit, Jane reportedly filled out an incident report at the school’s security office, and told the BMS counselor and principal about the situation.
“The principal represented that the incident was serious, and that she would investigate,” the filing reads.
The filing alleges neither the principal or the counselor followed up on the threats, didn’t follow up with Jane Doe to make sure she was safe, and didn’t notify her parents about the incident within five days, as required by district policy.
“On or about June 24, 2022, Jane Doe’s parents discovered that Jane Doe had been inflicting self-harm and having suicidal ideations,” the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit also alleges the district didn’t notify law enforcement of Smith’s threats or the March incident.
Both students now attend Belen High School, and Smith continues to harass the girl, the lawsuit claims.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.