OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WEAR-TV) — A lawsuit being filed against the Okaloosa County School Board alleges the board was negligent in supervising students in a first-grade classroom.
The suit, filed March 14, claims a seven-year-old Shalimar Elementary student was coerced into a bathroom by two other students (a boy and a girl) where he was forced to engage in sexual acts, including sexual intercourse - the whole time, left unsupervised.
"With regard to how long they were in the bathroom, I submit to you this: They were in there long enough to go in there and take their pants off, touch each other and perform sexual acts," said attorney Aaron Watson. "So, from our opinion, it was too long."
The Watson Firm attorneys representing the boy told Channel 3's Hannah Mackenzie the alleged incident took place in 2016 but was not reported until later.
"How do you expect a six and seven-year-old child to digest that?" asked Marlon White. "How do you expect a six and seven-year-old child to reconcile what's just happened to them and adequately explain it to their parents?"
Before this lawsuit was made public, we caught up with Okaloosa County School Superintendent, Marcus Chambers and asked about the district's policy on investigating claims like this one. He says the key is transparency.
"The very first thing that we're doing is we're calling the [Department of children and families] hotline - that's first and foremost," said Chambers. "Secondly, we're going to be communicating with our sheriff's office through our [school resource officer]. Our principals know from there, to contact the human resources department, then finally, we make sure that the parents are contacted."
Chambers has only served as superintendent for six weeks. He replaces Mary Beth Jackson, who was suspended earlier this year by Governor Ron DeSantis after it was alleged she mishandled child abuse allegations.
According to white, his client is no longer enrolled in the school district. He is being homeschooled.
"We don't expect the schools and teachers to prevent everything from happening," said White. "However, they have a duty and it's reasonable to expect and they should be supervised enough to where things like this should not happen to elementary school-aged kids."
Monetary damages aren't specified in the lawsuit, but compensation for attorney fees and psychiatric diagnoses and treatment is mentioned.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office was brought in to investigate. They closed their case without making any arrest.