AUSTIN (KXAN) — The mother of a then 5-year-old who was sexually abused by an Austin Independent School District bus driver in 2018 held a press conference with her lawyers Friday.
The mom is suing the school district, Austin ISD Police Chief Ashley Gonzalez and the bus driver, Cesar Maldonado, who was sentenced to 20 years in relation to the case in January 2020.
Maldonado confessed to inappropriately touching the child on his school bus several times. He must register as a sex offender when his sentence is complete.
The child’s family has previously filed suit, but they say the purpose of this one is to change the way Austin ISD does its investigations into sexual abuse allegations.
“We have also sued several members of the Austin Police Department, because we have various reports where they didn’t investigate thoroughly. They downplayed complaints, and when you do that, you encourage the predators to do it again,” said the family’s Attorney Randall Kallinen.
The new federal civil lawsuit claims the abuse, which took place from March 1 to May 29, 2018, was clearly captured on bus camera footage that was not reviewed or reviewed and ignored by Austin ISD staff.
“Upon further information and belief, there were over 500 video files that were not fully reviewed until over a month after [the victim’s] initial outcry,” the lawsuit reads.
The mother claims the Austin ISD Police Department has failed to properly investigate and prosecute other sexual assault cases in the past.
“This failure to protect students from sexual assault is a systematic pattern and practice of AISD,” the lawsuit reads.
The mom is suing for the physical pain and mental anguish caused by the abuse and for medical expenses.
Austin ISD said it is unable to provide comment on the new lawsuit in a statement to KXAN Friday:
“Austin ISD has previously been served with a lawsuit relating to this case, and it was dismissed without prejudice. We are aware of this new lawsuit; however, Austin ISD has not yet been served. Because of pending litigation, the District is unable to provide commentary.”
The press conference took place at the Austin ISD headquarters Friday at 1 p.m.