Sunday, September 02, 2007

Adoption is a loving choice

School rape victim suing for damages now center of guardianship battle

Ofelia Madrid
The Arizona Republic
Aug. 30, 2007 06:36 PM

SCOTTSDALE - A former Saguaro High School student who initially sought $20 million from the Scottsdale Unified School District after her 2006 rape on campus, is also the subject of a guardianship battle, according to court documents unsealed Thursday. The girl, 15, had been cared for by court-appointed guardians after her adoptive mother forced her out of the house and onto the streets at age 11, where she at least one time had sex for money, according to a Scottsdale Police report and other court documents.

The girl's adoptive parents, who are divorced, petitioned a Maricopa County Superior Court judge Thursday to terminate the guardianship, said Charles Bruen, an attorney representing Eula and Robert Franco, who adopted the girl in 1998.

Bruen would not say why the Francos want the guardianship terminated.

It is unclear when the girl was placed under the guardianship of Josephine Gortarez, but the Francos consented to it, he said.

The girl filed a $20 million notice of claim against the district Jan. 24, but her attorney Craig Knapp sought to keep its content secret.

Knapp is also representing the girl in her May 21 lawsuit against the school district and its janitorial service and asked for unspecified damages and punitive damages. Knapp asked for the lawsuit contents to be kept secret.

In past interviews Knapp said he was representing the girl's family, but Bruen said that is incorrect.

"The parents are frustrated that Craig Knapp says he represents the family. It's gotten to a point that it's time to correct it," he said.

Knapp was not available for comment Thursday.

Details about the girl's past emerged from her statements to police after the sexual assault, which occurred during the first week of school in August 2006.

This is the pictured painted by the court documents unsealed Thursday:

The girl told police she was adopted around the age of five.

When she got older, she and her adopted mother began arguing frequently. At one point, her mother called Child Protection Services and asked what she should do with an adopted daughter she no longer wanted.

The girl was placed in a shelter and attended the Thomas J. Pappas School for homeless children. Her mother took her back and but later kicked her out and told her never to come back.

The girl was 11-years-old and living on the streets for about two weeks.

One night while walking to McDonalds, a man in a car pulled up to her and asked whether she needed a ride.

She agreed.

The man asked if she needed money. She told him she didn't need money because she was living on the streets.

The man asked if she had ever tried prostitution.

She said no.

He told her that it was easy money and that she could try it one time and if she didn't like it she didn't have to do it again.

The man bought her condoms and the girl had sex with an unknown man. She didn't understand the first man was a pimp and wanted all the money.

She gave him $40, kept the unknown remainder and fled the car.

That was the first and last time she had sex before the rape, according to the documents released by

Commissioner Lindsay Ellis.

The Arizona Republic won a February appeal to open the girl's lawsuit and the notice of claim.

Republic attorney David Bodney said Thursday's release of documents allows the public to monitor claims against the school district.

"Any other outcome would leave the public completely in the dark and unable to monitor either the court or litigant's claims against a public school district. These are fundamental rights of access to court papers and proceedings."

The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled in June that the claim is a public record. The Republic does not identify the girl, 14 and a freshman at the time of the rape, because she is a minor and victim of sexual assault.

The Arizona Republic filed its lawsuit in February after Knapp, the girl's attorney, asked a lower court to seal the notice of claim to protect the girl's privacy. The claim was the first step in filing a lawsuit against the school district.

Knapp later filed a lawsuit against the school district and its janitorial service, ABM Janitorial Services.

The girl testified in open court at the former school janitor Roberto Lemus-Retana's trial that she put up no resistance when she was sexually assaulted by Lemus-Retana after school because she feared harm.

Lemus-Retana, 27, an undocumented immigrant, was sentenced in July to 80 years in prison. He was convicted of six felony counts, including four counts of sexual conduct with a minor, one of public sexual indecency and one of sexual abuse stemming from the August 2006 attack.

1 complaints from ingrates:

Erika September 5, 2007 at 7:50 PM  

I spent 8 years in the foster group home care system. most of the kids came from poor backgrounds.

the only middle class kids i met were adopted and then tossed back in when they became 'troubled teenagers'.

even then, it made me friggin sick.basically when the glow of parenthood wore off they could easily say well this isnt my kid after all.

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