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Posted on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

Lawyer: Ann Arbor Public Schools investigating alleged Eberwhite sexual assault

By Danielle Arndt

The Ann Arbor Public Schools is conducting a thorough investigation of allegations made in a lawsuit claiming a former Eberwhite Elementary School pupil was sexually assaulted by another student, the district's attorney said Wednesday.

“The Ann Arbor school system views the allegations in the lawsuit very seriously; they are taking it very seriously and are conducting a thorough investigation — under my direction — very seriously,” said John Gillooly, the lawyer the district retained to represent it in the case.


A lawsuit involving a former Eberwhite Elementary pupil is moving forward. Ann Arbor Public Schools, the defendant cited in the civil suit, was formally served with the complaint and will be filing an answer in federal district court.

Chris Asadian | AnnArborcom

The lawsuit, filed earlier this month, alleges an 8-year-old girl was sexually assaulted twice in the bathroom of her special education classroom by another student, once in October 2010 and again in March 2011.

The lawsuit, filed by the mother of the girl, also accuses AAPS of mishandling the alleged incidents and failing to protect the girl from repeated bullying and the assaults.

“Steps are being taken from the classroom level to school administration level to the board room level — at every level — to find out exactly what took place,” said Gillooly, a lawyer with Garan Lucow Miller P.C. in Detroit.

He said if the allegations are deemed true, AAPS would take whatever measures necessary to make sure these unfortunate incidents never happen again.

“If this lawsuit is found to be motivated by greed or something else, we will do everything in our power to resolve (the case) in the most effective and efficient manner possible,” Gillooly added.

AAPS was formally served with the lawsuit on Feb. 14. AAPS will have until March 14 to file an answer to the complaint in federal court.

Federal District Court Judge Patrick J. Duggan, Jr. will preside in the case.

Comprehensive coverage

Nicholas Roumel, attorney for the plaintiff, said after AAPS files its answer with the court, Duggan will set a scheduling conference to establish the procedural deadlines for the case, including the period of discovery; time for depositions, document exchange and pretrial motions; as well as eventual trial dates.

Roumel said he could not speculate whether the case would go to trial, although he added only 2 percent of all cases filed in federal court ever do.

“I imagine, however, the district and its counsel is going to vigorously defend this,” he said. “And we are going to do everything we can to pursue this case on behalf of our client and her daughter.”

Roumel said media coverage of the lawsuit has resulted in significant support for the family in this case.

“People in the public who have had their own issues with Ann Arbor Public Schools or a different district and have similar stories about kids being bullied or assaulted have come forward,” he said. “It’s been great to see that kind of support, although sad to hear those kinds of stories.”

Gillooly said in these cases there is usually “more to it than meets the eye.” He cautioned the community and everyone involved about making too many assumptions before the facts are known.

“I would urge everyone to not automatically assume that something took place,” he said referring to the incidents alleged in the lawsuit. “It’s important that nobody jumps to immediate conclusions, this includes the schools, the public, the family and their attorney and myself.”

Staff reporter Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


Tony Livingston

Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

Yikes. Gillooly sounds totally insensitive in his comments. We are talking about an 8 year old girl here. He is doing way more harm to his case than good.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 2:23 a.m.

What authority does a lawyer have in ordering a thorough investigation of an event in Ann Arbor? This man has illusions of authority and of data collection, AAPS staff aren't a cooperative crowd, what quality of data does he think he going to get that will be verifiable, by any stretch of any imagination? Clearly, this man does not know what he is going to be dealing with. Ha, a thorough investigation..pie in the sky talk from an outsider.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 2:11 a.m.

So the district hired a cutthroat lawyer to go after the 8 year special ed girls the hospital didn't investigate, like $75K is gold digging, for sure, to goldmine this very moneyed district, because that's what mothers do when kids get assaulted right? go for the gold? because they aren't good mothers in the first place,and that's why the lawsuit is really happening. Where did Rick Landrau go? Why are they putting money into this kind of ugly lawyering? I'm getting sick to my stomach...this kind of defending the indefensible will be remembered come time when the district is asking for support with their millages.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

It's spin by the defendant's lawyer, or didja miss that point?


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

It's called due process and is protected under our constitution. I don't think you'd want to live in the type of country that makes court decisions based on one side of a story.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 1:23 a.m.

"I HAVE A DREAM" : The AAPS quote the words from Dr. Martin Luther King's memorable speech and the Mission Statement includes: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." We need to address this issue of the content of character. The issue that the nation has faced in the past or now is that of developing the content of the character of our children. The Courts, the Judges, the Law Firms, the Attorneys, the Insurance Companies cannot do this job for us. At our homes, at our schools, the parents, the administrators, the teachers, and the children have to work together to develop and strengthen character of our children. This incident just tells us as to why we are failing. This is a child who acted in a manner that shows a character flaw or defect. If a kid in a Special Education class understands terms like 'oral sex', and 'humping', there is a problem with character.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

Jesse James, the Regulator and renowned bank robber from the Missouri Valley, or Jesse James the builder of "chopper" motorcycles?


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 12:06 p.m.

I also have a dream that my son recover from his abuse and that public schools do not teach racism and racism stops in the home. My son was called milk, cream, clear white boy, cracker and that was okay with everyone but me. I do not teach race in my home my children 30 plus are from all backgrounds. So why is race taught and if my son had lowered himself to that level or knew what those terms meant he was called I can guarantee Al Sharpton and Jesse James would of been all over my family and kids.One planet One people please


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 3:09 a.m.

The only way to change the system is to sue the system. A2 has a SOOA system which translates to Save Our Own A**. Never mind that a child was assaulted by a child her most likely was assaulted himself, no one did anything, nor will they to help either child. Sue Sue sue


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 3:07 a.m.

What makes you think the Ann Arbor school teaches character? My children go to middle school and thievery by other students is prolific, and the school does nothing. No one wants to bother teaching ethics, responsibility or consequences. I feel sorry for this earth when these children become leaders of our nation. It is a sad commentary to our society and Ann Arbor is doing nothing to combat this ignorance.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 1:20 a.m.

another example of the school trying to sweep things under the rug. Their "company lines", have to change. Every time my children have reported being assaulted by another student they were told that since a teacher did not see it, there was nothing the school could do, as it was my child's word against the assaulter. My children were instructed to take the names of witnesses, which is somewhat difficult when they are being pushed down the stairs, and knocked to the ground, resulting in my son getting a concussion. Way to go for this family, I hope they get a huge settlement.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 12:23 a.m.

Isn't this and the University Hospital child porn case reminiscent of the handling of child abuse by the Catholic Church? Perhaps it did not go on as long and it was not at the hands of the institutions employees but it still shows that intitutions value their reputations more than their responsibility to the children in their care.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 11:19 p.m.

Which is more sad... ...that some lawyer (and family) is seeking to enrich themselves from a tragedy - or - ... that AAPS and its staff are so inept that a special child under close supervision is in this kind of circumstance. My heart breaks for the victims and my disdain over flows for the incompetence and exploitation.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 11:38 a.m.

Do you think the mom is going for the money? Really? Is that why you think she filed the lawsuit? Honestly? Or do you think the new fancy lawyer has thrown out that possibility to tarnish Mom, because after all, this is all a misunderstanding that she is exploiting.

say it plain

Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 12:10 a.m.

If as alleged the school did not contact the mother of the child until the following day to tell her what happened to her daughter, then I'd say that's a pretty clear case of "mishandling". If they had reason to believe that the girl in question was sexually assaulted and didn't do *anything* to help get her assistance in terms of counseling, support, etc.-- even if they wanted to keep the case out of criminal courts for good (to protect the alleged assaulting children?! I'd hope that such 'protection' would also come with re-education about how to interact with others) or not so good (to protect their reputation as providing safe learning environments for our children) reasons--then that too looks to me like "mishandling". I guess we are to understand that the AAPS doesn't think whatever happened was a 'big deal'. Because apparently this is how it was treated.

Dithering Ninny

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 11:30 p.m.

We don't know that the school mishandled anything yet. Lets not rush to judgement


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 11:28 p.m.

What are you saying that the molested child doesn't deserve justice? Or that the family and lawyer doesn't deserve reasonable compensation? What is the family supposed to do just keep being ignored by AAPS? You know the only time Balas listens is when it involves litigation, and even then it seems to be tone-deaf!


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 10:37 p.m.

This whole incident is heart-rending. It besmirches the Ann Arbor School Board and the reputation of Eberwhite, the school attended by our children that is very near and dear to our hearts. We are heartbroken for the victims. We do not understand the actions, or lack thereof, of the teachers and of the administration, nor why it has taken so long for this matter to have been addressed. We hope the entire matter will be brought to light, that the victims will receive the medical attention they deserve, and that an incident like this is never allowed to occur again.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

Remember you have only heard one side of the story so far, the side told by a lawyer hoping to settle out of court.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 10 p.m.

Why aren't the police investigating the failure to report the incident? One article even stated that they tried to talk the parent out of reporting it. Police need to get involved in this and start investigating school officials actions.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.

There suppose to be Police are at our schools as well as cameras Officer Gold, Purcell and I forgot the other one wearing guns and tasers as a threat>


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 9:20 p.m.

When did the school know about the assault? Did they report it to the police so that they could investigate before all of the evidence disappeared? Is this another case of an institution investigating a crime themselves rather than reporting it to police? Schools and teachers are subject to the mandatory reporting statute for child abuse. If they knew about the assault and did not report it to police, someone should be going to jail.

Danielle Arndt

Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

Thanks, say it plain and trespass. You are both correct in that we were told teachers, school officials and the mother only became aware of the first incident after the second one took place.

say it plain

Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 12:02 a.m.

oh, and according to the first article on this, it seems that the first incident of alleged assault 'came to light' when the girl was being interviewed about the second incident. But the schools knew about the bullying behavior coming from the two boys in question toward the alleged victim.

say it plain

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 11:36 p.m.

@trespass, do check those links for more coverage here.. no, the school allegedly did not report to police, but instead delayed even reporting to the mother of the assaulted child, and when a day afterwards the principal called the mother to tell her what seemed to have happened, she urged her to *not* go to police. It seems legally it's a 'gray area' about schools' requirement to call police or CPS, because the abuse wasn't in the family of the child, or something like that. Sounds bogus, but apparently the schools don't feel that there's a need to protect children from this sort of thing, even if yesyes it all turns out to be 'more complicated' than at first glance. What if the greater 'complication' is "merely" AAPS's tolerance for inappropriate sexual 'play' and language posturing among elementary school children? I think at minimum this had to have been true here, and it is not at all a good reflection on AAPS, nor is the allegation that the alleged victim here had been bullied in similar ways by the two boys alleged to have assaulted her, and apparently not much had been done about that either. Even the attempts of the mother to get her child finally transferred to another school was alleged to have been blocked, wow, you'd think AAPS would have made it easy and done so with all apologies. Awful situation.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 11:09 p.m.

Thank you Danielle- Did they know about the first incident at the time it occurred or did they only learn about it after the second incident?

Danielle Arndt

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 10 p.m.

trespass, thank you for commenting. I would encourage you to take a look at the links in the box above showing our previous coverage. The alleged incidents were reported to police by hospital officials after the girl was taken to U of M to be checked out by a doctor. One of the boys accused of the assaults was charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct. has repeatedly asked the district about what action was taken immediately after school officials became aware of the alleged incidents, however the district had declined to comment given the litigation. All that we know is the Student Advocacy Center in Ypsilanti helped the girl get transferred to a different elementary school. Thanks for reading!


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 9:17 p.m.

Only 2% of federal lawsuits make it to trial. Lawyers like this are all about getting a settlement because going to trial is a lot of work for them. They can make a calculation about how much work a case will be for them and the amount of settlement they can get with relatively little work and decide it is in their interest to take a lesser settlement even if that is not in the best interest of their clients. In at least some cases, this particular law firm even puts a clause in their contract that they are not promising to represent the client if the case has to go to court (from personal experience with this law firm).


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 8:50 p.m.

it's About Time Think So Maybe


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 8:30 p.m.

Re, "Roumel said media coverage of the lawsuit has resulted in significant support for the family in this case," it's important to note that he gave the lawsuit to the media long before the school district ever saw it, so I suppose everything went according to plan.

say it plain

Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 4:42 a.m.

And could it be, @sh1, that the statement "...the district had not yet seen the lawsuit" meant something more like "the district has not officially looked over the lawsuit as filed" but that it is still possible that they were made aware of what it was going to look like way before it was filed and were just not prepared at that moment to comment on the alleged contents thereof? They had to first, for instance, get 'properly' lawyered up themselves, as we can now see. With someone who would 'investigate' what happened. Something that presumably didn't get done very well initially, when it was just a first- and second-degree criminal sexual assault charges for a couple of their students against another student while at school. What happened to the criminal case that was referred to in the first article on this topic, by the way? just wondering...


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 3:18 a.m.

I got my information from the Feb 5 article that said the district had not yet seen the lawsuit, so it was indeed put out in the community before the school had a chance to know about it.

Nick Roumel

Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 2:45 a.m.

Sh1, please don't make asssumptions. Actually the district was aware of the suit two months before it was filed.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 2:20 a.m.

Apparently, sh1 was wrong... the lawyer wasn't icky, was. I feel SO much better with THAT knowledge. Ewwww.

Danielle Arndt

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 9:43 p.m.

sh1, actually to correct your comment, the lawyer did not give the media a copy of the lawsuit, nor did he issue a press release on the suit. came across the case during a routine check of the lawsuits filed in federal district court. Checking these filings is part of what our cops and courts reporters do regularly.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 8:28 p.m.

This child has already been tried by the press and the public and found guilty. That's just as sad. And, why does the AAPS need to hire yet another lawyer and law firm and pay lord know what to them?? Didn't they just give the lawyer for the AAPS a 12.5% raise?? Like they can afford more outpouring of money?


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 10:16 p.m.

Attorney Gillooly is with Garan Lucow, an insurance defense law firm; AAPS likely tendered defense of this lawsuit to it's liability insurance carrier; in turn, the carrier probably retained Garan Lucow to defend the suit, not AAPS itself.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

"This child has already been tried by the press and the public and found guilty. That's just as sad." What are you talking about?


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 9:34 p.m.

Wondering the same thing, about the lawyer


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 8:26 p.m.



Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 8:18 p.m.

Another great reason to embrace Home Schooling! The public schools aren't for everyone. Obviously.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 11:28 a.m.

Aren't the majority of sexual assaults committed in ones own home? Homeschooling may be the right answer for a privileged few who can afford it, but making a correlation between public school and sexual assault is weak at best. Don't use a tragic situation to further your agenda...


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 8:28 p.m.

And home schooling is for the VERY few as well.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

The headline makes it sound like the lawyer directed the assault! I could not let this one pass.


Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 8:06 p.m.

Hah, I thought the lawyer arranged for the sexual assault to take place, great headline once again.

Cindy Heflin

Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 8:23 p.m.

We've revised the headline.