A $10 million lawsuit has been brought against Alexander Rodriquez, the 35-year-old Hamilton County school bus driver charged with raping a student in a motel.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Circuit Court, says the minor's legal guardians, who will not be identified to protect the alleged victim's identity, have suffered emotional trauma, lost wages and irreparable damage to their relationship with the child since she underwent counseling and therapy after the March 2015 incident.
The guardians are asking for $10 million in punitive and compensatory damages and have requested a jury trial. Catherine White, the family's attorney, declined to comment, saying the suit speaks for itself.
The lawsuit, four pages long, also accuses the Hamilton County Board of Education, Durham School Services and National Express of negligence for improperly supervising Rodriquez.
Durham School Services, which provides the majority of buses and drivers for the county, is a division of National Express, a corporation headquartered in Warrenville, Ill.
Durham officials could not be reached for comment and neither could Scott Bennett, the attorney for Hamilton County Board of Education. A National Express communications official reached Friday said the company had not been served yet and therefore could not comment.
Ben Coulter, transportation director at Hamilton County Schools, said in March 2015 that Rodriquez was suspended without pay pending the criminal investigation. But he could not be reached Friday to confirm that.
Court records from August show a judge agreed to reduce Rodriquez's bond from $350,000 to $15,000. The judge also ordered Rodriquez to have no contact with the minor or her family. Records note he was employed by M&S Trucking Crew, a transport company based in Georgia.
Next week, Rodriquez appears in Criminal Court again for a status hearing. A grand jury indicted him in May 2015 on a charge of aggravated statutory rape.
Two months earlier, on March 4, 2015, police say the 15-year-old at Sale Creek Middle/High School boarded his bus, rode with Rodriquez to the loading station, then got into his car.
The duo stopped at Super 8 Hotel on 8934 Lee Highway. Then, alone in a room, Rodriquez forced her to perform oral sex and raped her, the teenager told investigators.
Throughout the sexual assault, the minor repeatedly told Rodriquez "no," that she was in pain. But Rodriquez responded that he was trying "to make it hurt," records show.
At some point, the minor told deputies, Rodriquez received a call from investigators, who asked whether he knew the girl's whereabouts. She had been missing since 9:30 p.m., records show.
After the call, Rodriquez hustled the minor out of the hotel, drove her to the Birchwood area, then made her get out. It took an hour for her to walk home, she told investigators.
In Hamilton County, Rodriquez's criminal record is minimal.
The 35-year-old carries two felony convictions from Patterson, N.Y., for unlawful possession of a handgun on school property and drug possession, the suit says. Both convictions stem from the same incident. He also has a misdemeanor charge for possession of marijuana from New York.
Johnny Houston, his attorney in Criminal Court, said Friday it's too early to tell whether he'll represent Rodriquez on the civil matter.
Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at zpeterson@times freepress.com or 423-757-6347 with story ideas or tips. Follow @zackpeterson918.