School district opens up about bus sex assault case

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Fruitvale School District Superintendent Mary Westendorf spent Wednesday afternoon responding to concerns about the alleged sexual assault of a 13-year-old student.

The mother of a Fruitvale Junior High School student is suing the district on claims that her daughter was sexually assaulted on a school bus.

"I kind of just watched her deteriorate," said Rebekah Larkins during a news conference with her family's attorney earlier this week.

On Oct. 22, Larkin's 13-year-old daughter boarded a school bus, headed home. Larkins said her daughter called her, saying she had been sexually assaulted on the bus. She said it lasted the duration of the 17-minute bus ride.

"She had red marks on her neck, her hair was missing, and she said, 'Mommy, I was attacked,'" said Larkins, "and she started crying."

Larkins said her daughter was helpless as three boys attacked her.

The school district had been silent about the case until Wednesday.

"Immediate and permanent action was taken against the offending students, and appropriate action was taken against the bus driver," Westendorf said, adding that the school district was advised by law enforcement to refrain from comment until the investigation was complete.

Westendorf said the bus driver didn't follow guidelines. The driver is still an employee of the district but no longer drives any bus routes.

As for the students, the superintendent said they have a "zero-tolerance" policy for such acts.

The Kern County Sheriff's Office hasn't confirmed that a sexual assault took place Oct. 22.