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Family sues Juan Diego Catholic High School after student says she was raped on school trip

Published March 9, 2017 8:09 am

Sexual assault • Student says she was attacked on field trip.
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A family is suing Juan Diego Catholic High school, the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City and a former Juan Diego faculty member, saying a chaperon of a school-sponsored trip dismissed a sexual assault as something that "happens all the time."

According to court documents filed Wednesday in 3rd District Court, a female faculty member chaperoned the trip to Europe in June 2015 and didn't alert police when a student reported that she had been raped and held against her will at a hotel in Germany.

Because she was the only female on the trip besides the faculty member, the student didn't have a roommate, according to court documents, and she woke up during the final night of the trip to see an intruder, who sexually assaulted her in her hotel room. He allegedly blocked her from leaving for several hours, the suit states. When he left, the student sent a text message to a friend in Utah, who alerted the student's parents, according to the lawsuit; the parents contacted the chaperon.

When the student told the faculty member about the attack, the chaperon dismissed the claims, according to court documents, and instead told the student to prepare for the bus to the airport. The student brought up the assault again at the airport, and the faculty member allegedly said, "Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens all the time."

When she returned to Salt Lake City, the student's parents took her to Primary Children's Hospital, where medical staff performed a rape evaluation and found evidence consistent with a violent sexual assault, states the suit.

The student and her parents request compensation for negligent conduct, saying the faculty member allowed the student to be unsupervised and alone at night, didn't perform curfew checks and admitted to not knowing where the student's room was.

The family also seeks punitive damages to deter future "wrongful conduct."

Court documents also allege that the faculty member provided alcohol to several underage students on the trip.

The student's name — as well as her parents' ­— hasn't been included in the lawsuit because she was a minor at the time of the incident.

The diocese and Juan Diego are included in the lawsuit, the suit states, for not sending more than one chaperon, for not properly training the chaperon they sent and for not "earnestly [addressing] the situation" when the faculty member remained employed at the school.

The student's parents reported the incident to Principal Galey Colosimo, who allegedly told them the faculty member's employment contract prevented him from firing her. When school resumed in August 2015, she temporarily taught one of the student's classes, according to documents.

The woman no longer works for Juan Diego, according to a Facebook page that appears to belong to her.

Neither Juan Diego nor the diocese immediately returned a Salt Lake Tribune call requesting comment Wednesday evening.

The woman had been investigated for allegations of drinking alcohol in the cafeteria where students were eating at St. Marguerite Catholic School in Tooele in March 2013. The Diocese of Salt Lake City schools office cleared her of wrongdoing in that incident, and she resigned the next day.


Twitter: @Tiffany_mf






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