(Ellsworth, Maine) A special-needs woman from Stonington filed a lawsuit on July 17, 2019 for injuries she suffered when her bus driver sexually assaulted her while transporting her from her program for vulnerable adults. According to a Complaint filed in Hancock County Superior Court in Ellsworth by attorney John Z. Steed, bus driver Van Stevens waited until the woman was the only person remaining on the bus and pulled into an isolated parking area and then sexually assaulted the woman. In March, Stevens was sentenced to 2 years in prison for the sexual assault.
The Complaint names Down East Community Partners, Inc., Logisticare Solutions, LLC, Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Van Stevens as defendants in claims of assault and battery and negligence.
Minneapolis-based attorney and co-counsel, Patrick Noaker, voiced concern about the protection of vulnerable adults, “This is a tragic case. This predator isolated and manipulated the innocence of this vulnerable woman in order to sexually assault her. Unfortunately, intellectually disabled adults are sexual assaulted at a rate seven times higher than the general population. These most vulnerable and important members of our communities need and deserve the highest protection from sexual predators. In this case, the people responsible for protecting this woman, failed her and a sexual predator was able to sexually assault an innocent victim. She deserved better than this. We can do better than this.”
See NPR series by Joe Shapiro, Abused and Betrayed, for additional information on the epidemic of sexual assault of intellectually disabled men and women.
Patrick Noaker is an attorney with offices in Minneapolis, New York and Chicago who has represented hundreds of survivors of sexual assault across the country.
John Steed is an attorney with the Law Offices of Ellen S. Best, with offices in Blue Hill and Stonington, Maine who represents injured persons and persons accused of crimes.