Victim's mother speaks about alleged assault on Great Bend school bus
KAKE News is learning more about a possible assault on a Great Bend school bus over the weekend.
Michelle O’Neil is the victim’s mother. She said she is furious that USD 428 has only handed out a couple of suspensions. She said she wants much more to change after what her son went through.
“It was the last thing I thought I was going to hear,” O’Neil said. “You think your kids as safe on the bus and you can't even imagine.”
O'Neil recalled the most disappointing phone call she's ever had to take as a parent. She says her freshman son was on the way back from a swim meet in Manhattan on Saturday when horseplay with some upperclassmen took a disturbing turn.
She says it all changed when a teammate threw his bag to the back of the bus.
“When my son went back to get both of the bags, when he bent over to get the bags, the upperclassman pushed him down,” O’Neil said. “Another stepped on my child's face and, if he would go to scream, he would stick his toe in his mouth."
O'Neil said her son tried to get away, but they threw him back down.
“And after that is when three of the boys took my son's pants off, and they were trying to stick their sandals, their shoes, their fingers up his butt.”
The victim's freshman teammates tried to get the three boys to quit.
“When they were yelling to stop, the upperclassmen would smack them in the face with a shoe.”
That's when O’Neil said coaches heard yelling.
“And finally, they came back there and realized what was going on.”
Since that day, the Ellsworth County Sheriff's Office has been investigating the incident. But the school district has yet to release any information to parents regarding student safety moving forward.
“It was not handled correctly,” O’Neil said. “If that is their procedure or policy then it needs to be changed.”
Now there are allegations that Saturday’s incident wasn't the first time. O'Neil's attorney said he spoke with another victim's parent who's coming forward about an alleged sexual assault just three days before, also on the swim team bus.
“I think there needs to be seating arrangements on a bus, “O’Neil said. “I think there needs to be staff up front, maybe in the middle, in the back. I think once this happened and the coach didn't call anybody he made himself 100 percent liable.”
O'Neil said they are likely going to have to send her son to a new school district after this alleged incident.
Again, the school district had no comment about the incident when contacted by KAKE News on Friday.