Special needs student allegedly raped; grandma sues Pittsburgh Public Schools, popular coffee chain

PITTSBURGH — 11 Investigates has learned that the grandmother of a 15-year-old “intellectually disabled” student has sued the Pittsburgh Public School District, Starbucks and Kappa Drive Associates.

According to the lawsuit filed in Common Pleas court today, the student was allegedly raped in the restroom of the Starbucks on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill in October of 2022.

The lawsuit said Starbucks leases the building from Kappa Drive Associates, and that they both, “refused to supply adequate security so that patrons could safely use its premises.”

“This young girl, was without question, one of the most vulnerable people that we have among us,” said Attorney Alec Wright, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the family.

The lawsuit claimed that three male students left Taylor Allderdice High School with the freshman around lunchtime and went to Starbucks.

“Just take a second and think about, ‘What if I received that phone call?’, that my child was the victim of a violent sexual assault when they should have been in school and should have been protected,“ Attorney Wright said.

Previous coverage: Pittsburgh police release details about sexual assault allegations against high school students

And it contends that the school district, “allowed…three student-assailants to take her from Taylor Allderdice to Starbucks in broad daylight during school hours, despite its policy that students are not permitted off the school campus during the school day.”

“PPS did not supervise, manage or train its staff on this policy and the three student-assailants were therefore able to take Jane Do Minor off campus during the school day,” the suit claimed.

The lawsuit said two of the teens took turns raping the freshman in the restroom at Starbucks.

“Because Starbucks did not have security or trained staff present in its store, the students took turns going back and forth from the bathroom as they sexually assaulted and raped her,” the lawsuit said.

It also claimed the three males left the coffee shop and took the girl to a nearby construction site where one of them sexually assaulted her.

The suit said she suffered, “significant physical and emotional injuries.”

The suit alleged that she was, “incompetent and incapable of giving consent, and she was confused, scared, sad and upset.”

That area is a popular hangout for students from Taylor Allderdice, who are required to catch the bus at a bus stop near the Starbucks.

That location has been the site of fights among students.

In fact, during an altercation a month before the sexual assault, Pittsburgh Police Officers had to use Tasers to break up a fight.

The lawsuit also said 78 incidents of criminal activity had been reported in the area, including vandalism, drug dealing and assaults.

And the lawsuit said one of the students involved in the rape was already known to police.

“Defendants knew that one of the student-assailants was known for a litany of criminal activity including drug use, drug dealing, vehicle theft, violence and flight from police officers and that he would frequent Starbuck and the Starbuck’s bus stop,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also accused Starbucks of negligence and said the company, “should have known about the dangers and criminal activity occurring at and around its business location….and at the Starbucks bus stop that put Jane Doe Minor at risk of harm, and it breached its duties.”

Pittsburgh police investigated the rape allegations, but no charges were ever filed.

Attorney Wright said an examination confirmed that the teen had been sexually assaulted and he said he doesn’t understand why charges haven’t been filed.

He said the teen’s grandmother reported it to police with high hopes they would take action.

“Investigators will understand, and they will be tasked with doing something, but they won’t do anything. They’ll tell you that your daughter with a 60 IQ had the capacity to be gang raped on her own at her own volition,” said Wright, who is demanding a jury trial and seeking unspecified monetary damages.

A Starbucks spokesperson issued the following comment about the lawsuit:

“When we learned of these allegations, we acted with extreme urgency to and support law enforcement throughout their investigation. Our goal is always to keep our stores safe for our partners and our customers. Due to the sensitive nature of this matter, and out of respect for all involved, we cannot comment further right now.”

Pittsburgh Public Schools declined to comment.

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