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Exclusive: Mother talks about charter school rape lawsuit | News

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Exclusive: Mother talks about charter school rape lawsuit

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- A mother wants justice for her disabled daughter, who says she was gang raped on the way home from school.

That's why Elise Hilton and her family are suing Hope Academy Of West Michigan and the Grand Rapids Police Department.

Hilton says she is angry. Not mad because Hope Academy gave her 16-year-old daughter a one day suspension for acting up in class, but furious the charter school staff either told the developmentally disabled girl to get off school property or let her leave before a parent came to get her.

While she was walking toward home without a coat, the girl says a man invited her in to get warm, then gave her beer and raped her. The teen claims she was handed over to other men who also assaulted her for two days at various locations until she was finally able to escape.

In the year and a half since the alleged attack, her mother says police detectives have questioned and said the don't believe the girl's story. Prosecutors have also refused to charge suspects and the school denies any responsibility.

"When we realized justice wasn't going to be served through the police and their investigation, we really did only have one option: That was to file a lawsuit. This isn't about money, this isn't about anything other than trying to make sure the people responsible for our daughter's safety, and following up on the crime that was committed, are held responsible for that," says Hilton.

The lawsuit is asking for damages from Hope Academy, various administrators, the employee who allegedly ordered the 16-year-old off school property, Ferris State University, which authorizes the charter school, and the Grand Rapids Police Department.

Wednesday, the charter school issued a written statement refusing to comment of the lawsuit, but insisting everyone from Hope Academy involved in this incident acted appropriately.