Diana G-D ex rel. Ann D. v. Bedford Central School District

33 Misc. 3d 970, 932 N.Y.S.2d 316 (2011)

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Diana G-D ex rel. Ann D. v. Bedford Central School District

New York Supreme Court
33 Misc. 3d 970, 932 N.Y.S.2d 316 (2011)

  • Written by Liz Nakamura, JD

Facts

Diana G-D (plaintiff) was a third-grade student at Bedford Elementary School in the Bedford Central School District (defendant). Diana lived with her mother, Ann D. (plaintiff), and her stepfather, Cesar Morales. In December 2005, Mrs. D, the mother of another third-grader, reported that she overheard her daughter talking about a conversation that the daughter overheard on the playground in which Diana confessed to another student that Morales was sexually abusing her. Mrs. D immediately reported this third-hand allegation to school officials. Diana’s teachers spoke to Diana about her home life, and Diana stated that everything was fine at home. The teachers did not ask Diana about the sexual-abuse allegations. Diana appeared healthy, happy, and well-behaved at school. The school did not report the abuse allegation to law enforcement or to Ann. In August 2006, Ann discovered inappropriate pictures of Diana on Morales’s phone and immediately contacted the police. Morales was arrested and convicted of sexual misconduct against a child. Ann, on behalf of Diana, sued the school district in New York Supreme Court, which is New York’s lowest-level trial court, for failing to report suspected child sexual abuse. The school district moved to dismiss, arguing that its mandatory-reporting duties were not triggered because (1) neither Diana nor Ann reported Diana was being sexually abused; (2) Mrs. D’s report did not trigger the district’s reporting duties because she was not Diana’s parent, guardian, or custodian; and (3) Diana’s behavior and response to her teacher’s questions did not create reasonable suspicion that Diana was being abused.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Giacomo, J.)

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