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SALT LAKE CITY — Parents of a Juan Diego High School student are suing the school and the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City after they say their daughter was violently raped in her hotel room when she was left alone on a school trip.
Filed Wednesday in 3rd District Court, the lawsuit accuses the private Catholic school and church leaders of negligence — including in hiring, insufficiently training and then in retaining the teacher accused of failing to watch over the girl.
According to the lawsuit, the Juan Diego student was the only female on the study abroad trip and was therefore provided a hotel room by herself. On the trip's final night in Germany, the girl had been assigned to a room in the hotel's annex, the lawsuit claims. The female teacher overseeing the trip, whose son was one of the male students on the trip, had a room with her son in another area of the hotel, near the other students in the program.
During the night, the lawsuit claims, the girl awoke discovering someone in her room. She pretended to sleep in hopes the intruder only intended to rob her, but the intruder instead moved to the girl's bed, raped her, and then held her in the room for several hours.
During the hours the intruder was allegedly in the room, the Juan Diego teacher did not check on the student, the lawsuit claims.
Once the intruder was gone, the girl was afraid to leave her room and texted a friend, who contacted the girl's parents, the lawsuit claims. The girl's parents contacted the teacher leading the trip only to learn that the teacher would need to find out what room their daughter had been assigned in order to check on her, according to the lawsuit.
Upon contacting the girl, the lawsuit alleges the teacher did not seek help from medical or law enforcement officials, but told the girl to collect her belongings and come to the bus. When the girl again tried to talk to the teacher about what had happened, the lawsuit claims the teacher replied, "Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens all the time."
Once the girl's flight arrived at Salt Lake International Airport, her parents rushed her to Primary Children's Hospital where she was evaluated. There, doctors found physical evidence, injuries and other indications of a forcible sexual assault, the lawsuit claims.
The parents met with Juan Diego's principal, where they learned of additional negligence in the planning, preparation, organization, execution and chaperoning of the trip, according to the lawsuit.
After more meetings between the parents and school, the teacher who led the trip remains employed and unsanctioned, according to the lawsuit.
The school did not return calls for comment. The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City declined comment, saying it is against the organization's policies to comment on pending litigation.
The family is seeking unspecified financial damages, punitive damages and attorney fees.