The parents of a special needs child have filed a report against the Anchorage School District, alleging it waited for a month to act on a sexual abuse incident allegedly committed by a teacher’s aide in 2014.
Julianti Clarke, a 62-year-old Begich Middle School teacher’s aide, was charged with sexual harassment in May 2015 after video evidence emerged of her inappropriately touching the child in the school’s lunchroom. Court documents said the woman touched the child’s genitals over his clothes, stuck table items down the back of the child’s shirt and used his hand to wipe the table.
And he wasn’t the only students she reportedly abused. While looking at an unedited version of the video, Mike Kramer, the victim’s attorney, realized footage provided the school intentionally left out Clarke harassing another child — and her first victim was forced to watch it.
“At least one other child was receiving similar mistreatment,” he said. “We obviously don’t know the identity of that child or whether his parents were contacted, or whether police were even notified about that, but it’s disturbing that we were given a edited video tape that removed that particularly disturbing section.”
ASD spokesperson Heidi Embley said the district was unable to respond to questions about the missing footage and the second victim because its attorney was not in office that day.
District Attorney Clint Campion said he was unaware of any other similar cases.
The school strongly denied the lawsuit allegation that they waited weeks to report the abuse. Embley said that an employee first reported that Clarke refused to open a bag of chips for a boy and no inappropriate behavior was found during the review. However, two weeks later, the administration received another unrelated report of the child being abused.
Upon investigation, the school immediately released Clarke, who pleaded guilty to second-degree harassment. She then completed a paltry 48 hours of community service in exchange for the sexual harassment charges being dismissed under a November 2015 agreement.
The parents of the victim have been trying to reach an agreement with ASD for the past half a year in exchange for the copy of the September report. The school district however refused to do so, claiming their surveillance data is cleared every 30 days.
The parents then took legal action.
“Our concern is that had they responded to this in September when they should have, they would have been able to confirm that the abuse had been going on since the start of school in August,” the victim’s attorney said.
District attorney Campion said Clarke was not charged with the sex crime because the video did not prove contact was of sexual nature “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“A couple different prosecutors looked at it and said that it was not entirely clear whether there was any type of sexual contact with the child,” Campion said.
However, the lawsuit filed alleges the school failed in its responsibility to protect the student and supervise its employees. As a result of the negligence and abuse, the child and his family experienced “severe emotional distress” and should be compensated $500,000 each for damages.