Suit: Indiana boy suffered sex abuse from second grade classmates

Parents suing Ball State University

INDIANAPOLIS - The parents of a central Indiana boy are suing Ball State University, alleging their son was subjected to "horrific sexual abuse" by fellow second-graders at a university-run school who they say acted out scenes from pornographic videos they downloaded on school computers.

The lawsuit says the boy was 8 years old when he was forced to engage numerous times in sex acts with other children at Burris Laboratory School in Muncie in late 2011. Four second-grade boys, including the alleged victim and another student described as the "ringleader," are believed to have been involved in the sex abuse, the complaint alleges.

Ball State spokesman Tony Proudfoot said in a written statement that the university learned in December 2011 of allegations of inappropriate behavior among four second-graders at the school. He said the matter was "reported promptly" to local law enforcement and the Indiana Department of Child Services.

Proudfoot would not elaborate on the alleged inappropriate behavior, but he said the claims in the lawsuit "bear no resemblance to the evidence or results of the investigations of the university or those of the agencies to which it was reported."

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Judi Calhoun confirmed Tuesday that the sheriff's department and prosecutor's office investigated the allegations. She said she could not comment on any findings because the matter involved juveniles and such cases are not open to the public.

"All I can say in regard to the matter is that it was investigated," Calhoun said.

Proudfoot's statement noted that "no adults were alleged to be perpetrators of abuse of any child in this matter" and said that the university will "vigorously defend these unwarranted allegations."

Jason Delk, an attorney for the boy's parents, also said he could not comment on what prosecutors or police found. But he said the boy suffered psychological and emotional trauma.

"He's absolutely a victim. I don't know that he's the main victim, but he's certainly a victim of the sexual abuse that was going on at Burris," Delk said Tuesday.

The lawsuit alleges the students had "unfettered access" to the Internet at school and viewed pornographic videos on school computers and iPads. After viewing those video, the lawsuit states, "the students would then 'act out' the scenes" on each other.

All of the boys were students in the same second-grade class and were allowed by their teacher to go on long, unsupervised restroom breaks, the lawsuit states. Most of the alleged sex acts took place in bathrooms, but some occurred in the school's library and in classrooms, the suit contends.

The suit, filed Friday, seeks compensatory and punitive damages. It alleges the boys engaged in at least 11 separate instances of sexual abuse and molestation over three months in late 2011. Delk said all of the boys were around 8 years old.

He said the suit was filed "as a measure of last resort" after discussions with Ball State officials failed to result in "an understanding." He declined to elaborate.