Mother of AISD student who was sexually assaulted calling on district policy changes

aisd sexual assault vo.transfer_frame_239.png
Cesar Maldonado is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for his crimes. (Photo courtesy: Austin Police Department)

It has been two years since her then-5-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted by an Austin ISD school bus driver, and Crystal Ayon still struggles to put her emotions into words.

Ayon has been in a legal battle with AISD for nearly a year, after Cesar Maldonado admitted to sexually assaulting her daughter at least ten times between March 1, 2018 and May 29, 2018.

"I just feel sad, angry, because this happened with my daughter. She has special needs, so they were not responsible. They have to be responsible," Ayon said.

Maldonado is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for his crimes.

According to the original lawsuit, Ayon's daughter became "extremely distraught and cry each morning before boarding her school bus," two weeks before filing a report.

In April, a federal judge ruled in favor of AISD, saying the district was not liable in this sexual assault case.

RELATED: CDC lays out guidelines for re-opening schools

On April 29, Ayon's lawyers filed a motion to submit an amended complaint or get a new trial. In this new lawsuit, they claim AISD had a pattern of acting slowly in previous sexual assault cases, which led to repeat offenses against victims. They outlined at least five such cases.

The new lawsuit also says the bus monitor, who was supposed to be in the bus at all times, would have to leave the bus to walk kids to their stop, providing an opportunity for the attacks.

"This was a school bus driver, and that school bus had cameras in it, and this happened repetitively on the school bus. There was supposed to be a monitor on that bus at all times. This is not the first time this has happened with a school bus driver. Two years prior to that, there was another case where a school bus driver had sexually assaulted a young girl, 6-years-old, on the bus. There are many other cases we found out recently in our investigation of very young girls being sexually assaulted at the Austin Independent School District," said Randall Kallinen, one of Ayon's lawyers.

The motion also says AISD's policy was to only view in-bus camera footage when a complaint was filed.

"Why can't you hire one or two more people to view some videos, to see what's going on with these bus drivers and students, when just two years ago, you had this huge problem, you're still not doing anything," Kallinen said. "What we're attempting to do is change the policies. They've got the cameras in the buses, but don't view them. What good is it going to do if they don't view the video?"

CBS Austin asked AISD if they have changed their bus camera viewing policy. They provided this statement in response:

The Ayon v. AISD lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice by federal judge Pittman on March 31, 2020 because plaintiff did not allege sufficient facts to demonstrate that AISD had a policy permissive of sexual abuse, and AISD was not deliberately indifferent in training it’s bus drivers and bus monitors. Judge Pittman entered a Final Judgment on April 3, 2020 in favor of AISD. On April 29, 2020, plaintiffs filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint, or in the alternative, a motion for new trial. The plaintiff’s motion is still pending. Due to the on-going litigation, and the privacy rights of those involved, AISD is not at liberty to discuss the facts of the case at this time.

Ayon is seeking money damages, but Kallinen said they are more interested in the district changing their policies.

"We're seeking money damages, but the most important thing is change. One of the reasons we want to seek money damages is because a lot of times school districts and other entities don't react if there's no money involved. Once money is involved, sometimes that sets it into action," Kallinen said.

Right now, Ayon says she no longer trusts the school district after these repeated incidents.

"I don't trust them no more because of what happened to my daughter. You never know what happened with other babies. You never know what happened," Ayon said.