BENNETT, Colo. - An 8-year-old is being tested for sexually transmitted diseases after he put a used condom in his mouth. It happened last Tuesday on the playground at Bennett Elementary School.
"He's at risk for HIV, Hepatitis C, Herpes, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia,” the boy’s mother, Alicia, said.
To protect her son’s identity, Alicia doesn’t want to show her face or share her last name. She said her son was at Bennett Elementary School when a teacher called and said that her son found what he thought was a balloon on the playground and tried to blow it up.
"When she took the 'balloon' out of his mouth, it was a used condom,” Alicia said.
A chain of emails Alicia shared with 7NEWS showed the teacher brought Alicia’s son inside to wash his hands and mouth, noting while the condom “wasn’t fresh, it looked like it had been used.”
The emails reveal that a staff member threw the condom out, so it was never tested. It’s Alicia’s son that now must go through repeated blood testing over the course of the next year for diseases that sometimes take a year to emerge. Alicia pointed out that if he were found to have a disease, it would change her son's life.
"That would be a lifelong [process], millions of dollars in medical bills,” Alicia said. “I mean this is just an unbelievable tragedy."
Bennett School District Superintendent Dennis Veal spoke with 7NEWS by phone, acknowledging the incident. He said the school hopes to install surveillance cameras and increase the frequency with which maintenance staff inspects the playgrounds. But he declined to state whether the district is at fault.
"I guess I'd leave that up to the liability insurance as far as what coverage we have,” Veal said.
Alicia has a letter from the Colorado School Districts Self Insurance Pool, denying her claim. Calling the incident “regrettable,” the letter concludes they are not liable for any damages.
"They will not pay for it because it's taxpayers money and I feel like I'm a taxpayer. So, I mean, this is my son and they failed to protect him,” Alicia said.
Tri-County Health officials said the risk of infection is low, given that the condom could have been outside for any period of time. A spokesperson said they have never had a complaint against the Bennett School District, so they have never inspected the playground for any health hazards.
7NEWS contacted the Colorado School Districts Insurance Pool for comment. We’ll update you when we hear back.