A federal appeals court in New Orleans will hear oral arguments in a lawsuit that claims a 9-year-old girl was checked out of a south Mississippi school six times by an unauthorized man who then raped her.Here is the panel decision that may be overturned. Evidently, the weight of judicial opinion runs against the holding that assuming custodial care of a small child creates a "special relationship" that would make the school liable for due-process violation if it fails to keep the child reasonably safe.
The lawsuit filed in 2008 by the girl's father and paternal grandmother said a Covington County elementary school failed to verify Tommy Keyes' identity when he took the girl from campus in 2007 and 2008. The school district denies the accusation.
A federal judge in Mississippi dismissed the lawsuit. Then, in August, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals reinstated it.
In an order filed Monday and released Wednesday, the full 5th Circuit Court agreed to hear the school district's appeal of the reinstatement. The court said oral arguments will be scheduled later.
The lawsuit said the 6-foot-2-inch Keyes allegedly signed the check-out sheet on one occasion as the girl's mother but usually signed her father's name.
The lawsuit said Keyes "brutally and viciously raped, sodomized and molested" the girl each time he checked her out of school. Keyes brought the girl back to school and checked her in after the alleged attacks, the lawsuit said. * * *
At the beginning of school, guardians fill out a form in which they list people who have permission to check out a child. The lawsuit said that Keyes was not on the list of people approved to check out the girl and that school officials didn't ask for identification to compare with the list.
Attorneys for the girl's family have said the case would set a frightening legal precedent for parents if a court ultimately decides that an elementary school has no constitutional duty to prevent a student from leaving with an unauthorized person.
To which TBA responds that there is something wrong with the weight of judicial opinion. You cannot legally require a child to attend school, act in loco parentis for the child, and then assume no duty whatsoever for the child's safety -- indeed, hand her over to her rapist. If the law holds that, then the law is an ass.
P.S. -- Keyes is said in the article to be serving a 10-year sentence. WTF?