Judson Hit with Lawsuit Over Sex Abuse Incident

The Judson School District, currently investigating child sexual abuse charges against a former elementary school aide, has been slapped with a civil lawsuit by the parents of a student who may have been molested during the suspect's 12 years with the district.

Attorney Marynell Maloney filed the suit Nov. 22 in U.S. District Court, alleging the girl's rights to "bodily integrity" were violated while she was a student at Ed Franz Elementary School, where Rogelio "Robert" Ruiz, 39, was employed from 1997-2008 as an aide who worked with dyslexic students.

According to the suit, Ruiz molested the girl between September 2003 and May 2005, when the girl was 8 and 9.

Judson public spokesman James Keith said six students have notified the district about possible abuse.

The lawsuit states that in 2004 a child saw Ruiz kissing the alleged victim. The young witness told her mother, who then notified Franz Principal Cindy Barnhart of the incident. The lawsuit claims that Barnhart — on administrative leave without pay from her post as principal of Converse Elementary School — did not notify proper authorities or the girl's parents, and did not investigate the incident any further, other than detailing the incident in the suspect's personnel file.

Maloney said the suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Barnhart is one of three employees currently on administrative leave in connection with the incident, Keith said.

"Everyone in Judson is saddened by these allegations," Keith said, as news of the lawsuit emerged. "We will review the allegations made in the pleadings and respond in the appropriate forum, which is in the courts, not in the media.

"We recognize the long-term effects of sexual abuse and choose to respect the alleged victims by not making a public spectacle out of this tragedy," Keith said.

"Strong action will be taken against any employee who harms children, including termination and reporting to law enforcement when appropriate," he added.

[December 2, 2010, San Antonio Express News, by Jeff B. Flinn]