Muncie mother suing Ball State over handling of sexual activity among children
MUNCIE – A Muncie mother says her son was bullied and called a child molester because Ball State University mishandled a case involving sexual activity among students at a school on the university’s campus.
The complaint centers around an investigation at the Burris Laboratory School, where Ball State students work as student teachers.
The mother, identified as Jane Doe in the complaint, says her son was one of several boys younger than 10 years old who were routinely left unsupervised and had access to pornographic materials on school computers.
“(The students had) unrestricted access to YouTube, the internet, the iPads, the laptops, school computers, to look at whatever they wanted,” said the mother’s attorney, Thomas Blessing.
According to the complaint, after the boys watched pornographic videos and animated games, they would get together and imitate the sexual activity in the school library and in an unsupervised classroom. The boys would also perform oral sex on each other while unsupervised in a bathroom at the school.
“Usually we worry about kids saying things that they may have heard on TV or in a movie,” Blessing said. “Well, these boys were reenacting things that they saw.”
In late 2011, the mother says her son was falsely identified as being the instigator of the sexual activity and her son’s name was released to some members of the public.
That, she claims, led to her son being bullied at school and being labeled a child molester by some parents in the community. She has since moved her son to a different school.
The complaint is seeking monetary damages among other things.
“She wants people to be held accountable,” Blessing said. “Whether it’s the teacher, the aides in that classroom, other teachers at Burris School, all need to understand that they have a very serious responsibility to supervise these kids.”
A Ball State spokesman told Fox 59 it is the university’s policy not to comment on pending litigation. But he did point to the Burris School’s current student handbook, which spells out the current policy on students accessing the internet:
“Students utilizing Burris provided Internet access must first have the permission of and must be supervised by the Burris Laboratory School’s professional staff. Students utilizing school-provided Internet access are responsible for good behavior on-line just as they are in a classroom or other area of the school.”
The university has not responded to Fox59’s question about whether the policy has been added or altered as a result of the lawsuit.