OLYMPIA, Wash. - A woman who won a lawsuit against a local school district after her daughter was molested on a school bus only talked to KIRO 7 Eyewitness News about what she hopes the settlement will accomplish.
The woman’s daughter is one of three children who were molested on the bus by Olympia school bus driver Gary Shafer.
A jury found the Olympia School District negligent for failing to properly supervise Shafer, who was allowed to ride as a helper on other drivers’ buses, even when he was not on duty.
“There was a huge lack of responsibility on the district’s part,” said the woman, who asked to be identified only as Abbi, to protect her daughter’s privacy.
Abbi's daughter was in kindergarten when she was molested by Shafer.
“When this was going on, he was sitting in my daughter’s seat. He was putting her in his lap. He was back-rubbing her, tickling her, things of that nature,” said Abbi.
Shafer has been sent to prison and a jury in a civil trial ordered the Olympia School District to pay Abbi's daughter more than $1 million -- money that will be overseen by a court-appointed trustee.
“(It will be used) for counseling, for college, that sort of thing. It’s all going to be put away for her to be used when necessary,” said Abbi.
Abbi said her daughter, who is nearly 8 years old now, is doing well for the most part.
“Sometimes it bothers her, so we have anxiety and occasional frustration. (She’s) just getting frustrated for no reason, having trouble sleeping,” said Abbi.
While the money will be helpful, Abbi said the reason for the lawsuit was to hold the school district accountable and hopefully keep other children safer in the future.
“I hope so. I really hope so, because this is something that changes people. This will be with her for the rest of her life and I don’t wish that on anyone else,” said Abbi.
The victim's mother said she believes people who work with children should be required to undergo training so they can better spot the signs of sexual predators before they strike.
She said she is planning to make that goal a reality.
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