A law firm has filed a $500,000 claim against the Kent School District for the alleged sexual assault of a minor by a substitute teacher.
Attorney Mark Lindquist, of Hermann Law Group with offices in Seattle and Tacoma, announced the claim in a Tuesday, March 22 press release.
Surinderjit Mauli, 66, pleaded not guilty to two counts of fourth-degree assault in Kent City Court in December 2019. The charges are still pending.
Lindquist filed the application on behalf of the family of the girl, who was in Mauli’s fourth grade class. He was accused of running his hand over the girl’s buttocks, rubbing her stomach and back, grabbing her hands and pinning them to a desk.
The girl took counseling to cope with the trauma, which severely affected her feelings about school and teachers, Lindquist said. The claim relates to the trauma caused by the alleged sexual assault, emotional distress, expenses, losses and ongoing damages, according to the claim for damages. The claim says the district failed in its duty to protect the girl from harm.
“Schools should be havens for our children,” Lindquist said.
Although the claim is against the school district, Lindquist said he expects the future lawsuit to include Mauli as a defendant.
Under Washington state law, a claim is a necessary prelude to legal action against a government entity, Lindquist said. Sixty days after a claim is filed, legal action may be taken if the claim has not been successfully resolved.
Mauli was removed from the school district‘s roster of substitute teachers after the allegations. He had worked as a substitute teacher in the district since June 2018.
A Kent School District spokesperson did not respond to The Kent Reporter for comment on the lawsuit.
The alleged assault took place in September 2019. Kent City Attorney Tami Perdue decided in 2019 to file two counts of fourth-degree assault against Mauli after the King County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the case. Kent Police initially investigated the incident as a possible case of paedophilia, according to police reports.
“This case has been reviewed by our office and has been determined to not meet our office’s filing standards threshold for felony assault,” a spokesperson for the county attorney’s office said. King in 2019. “We declined to file and referred the case to Kent City Court.”
During an interview with Kent Police in 2019, Mauli denied touching, hugging, rubbing or patting any of the students except for the pat on the head.