Family Suing Over Girl's Abduction from Cobbs Creek School

On the same day Christina Regusters was formally arraigned in court, the family of the girl she allegedly abducted says they're suing

The family of a young girl abducted from her Philadelphia classroom and sexually assaulted plan to sue the School District of Philadelphia for negligence.

Tom Kline, the attorney representing the 6-year-old girl and her family, says he's sent a letter of intent to the district notifying them of the impending civil lawsuit.

"The school district failed this little girl just miserably in terms of what they didn't do to protect her on that day," Kline told Monday.

Investigators say Christina Regusters kidnapped the then 5-year-old girl from William C. Bryant Elementary school at 6001 Cedar Avenue in the Cobbs Creek section of the city on January 14.

Dressed in a Muslim burqa and with her face covered, Regusters allegedly signed in to the school as the girl's mother, went to the classroom and took the girl from class, according to investigators.

The woman and girl could be seen on surveillance video in the school's stairwells and then later walking outside the school.

Police say the girl was then taken to a home along the 6200 block of Walton Avenue. There, police say, the girl was blindfolded and sexually assaulted. She was forced to stay under a bed after the assault, before being dumped in an Upper Darby playground in the early morning hours of January 15.

Police say the girl was wearing only an oversized T-shirt and was barefoot.

"We expect our children to be able to go to school and be educated and what happened her was just every parent's nightmare," Kline said.

In the days following the girl's abduction, Philadelphia School District Superintendent Dr. William Hite said the school did not follow procedures.

Visitors are supposed to show identification and employees are required to check school records to verify the visitor's signature and whether they are allowed to remove the child from school, but that never happened.

The woman should have never been allowed to walk into the girl's classroom, Dr. Hite said earlier this year.

A new principal has since taken over at the school and other employees have been reassigned, according to district officials.

The family's announcement comes on the same day Regusters was formally arraigned in Pennsylvania's Court of Common Pleas.

A grand jury indicted Regusters on 11 crimes last month including involuntary deviant sexual intercourse with a child, kidnapping and unlawful restraint of a minor.

Her attorney, W. Fred Harrison, Jr., told Monday he's awaiting the findings of that grand jury to be released. Harrison, Jr. does not expect to receive the information until at least two months before the trial -- which has yet to be set.

Regusters, who is being held at Northampton County Prison, was not in court for Monday's proceedings.

Harrison, Jr. says he spoke to Regusters last week and says she's holding up. He says she maintains she did not abduct or sexually assault the girl.

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.

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