William Coats, Clover Park School District Attorney, Says Disabled 11 Year Old Girl Not Affected By Sexual Assault
By Kim Stagliano
Not every story on Age of Autism deals directly about autism. Sometimes we just profile the sheer stupidity and callous disregard of people who should know better. We did this a few months ago with a State Senator who made a joke of vaccine injury. On camera. His office read our post and apologized. We ran the apology. No need to link any of it here. Water under the bridge.
Today's subject is one William Coats, attorney at Vandeberg, Johnson & Gandara law firm, and attorney for the Clover Park School District in Washington State. A family was awarded three quarters of a million dollars in a sexual assault case involving their ELEVEN year old daughter with special needs. Mr. Coats failed to see how an assault could possibly harm a girl whose IQ is below 70. As if low IQ, cognitive deficits, mental retardation, call it what you will, means no emotions or feelings or basic humanity. It does not.
The district admitted it was negligent in its supervision of the boy, but its attorneys argued at trial that the girl deserved damages of no more than $50,000.
“Given her cognitive ability, it is unlikely the girl experienced many of the psychological issues customarily associated with sexual assault, such as feeling guilty or damaged,” the district’s attorney, William Coats, wrote in his trial brief.
The attack occurred Jan. 28, 2011, at Lochburn Middle School.
The girl, then 11, was having lunch in the school cafeteria when the boy, then 13, pulled her into a bathroom and sexually assaulted her while two other boys watched, court records show.
The boy, also developmentally disabled, later told school officials he’d pulled down the girl’s pants and “touched his private area to her private area,” even as she asked him to stop, the records show.
The girl emerged from the bathroom visibly upset a few minutes later and told a school employee what happened.
Two months before, school officials found the boy in a bathroom engaged in sexual touching with another boy.
As a result of that incident, the 13-year-old boy was prohibited from using student bathrooms and “could only use the nurse’s bathroom under supervision,” court records show.
If Mr. Coats' daughter or granddaughter had been molested, would he be so dismissive of her feelings? I doubt it.
Read the story at The News Tribune here - it's a story of school based negligence first and foremost. Liability. Monetary loss. It's what makes crummy schools change their ways. Makes companies produce safer products. Which brings us back around to one of our major focuses of Age of Autism after all.
As a Mom whose daughter was assaulted on a school bus - my heart goes out to this family. Money doesn't buy happiness and it never erases painful memories. I hope Mr. Coats rethinks his strategy next time he tries to save his client a few bucks.
Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor for Age of Autism.