Gilbert's Story Leaves Parents Without Answers - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NC5 Investigates: Stories of Abuse

Gilbert's Story Leaves Parents Without Answers

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Kimberly Lopez-Ruiz, Gilbert's mother Kimberly Lopez-Ruiz, Gilbert's mother

NewsChannel 5 investigates yet another sexual assault of a special ed student.

And, incredibly, this one also occurred right behind a Metro school bus driver.

We recently told you the story of an 11-year-old, autistic girl named Jenna.

But it turns out the same thing happened to a little boy named Gilbert.

As tough as it is, Gilbert's mom wants you to hear his story -- in his own innocent words.

"Gilbert, what happened on the bus?" his mother, Kimberly Lopez-Ruiz, asks in a tape recording of her first conversation with her son about the incident.

It's a mother-son moment that no mom ever wants to experience.

"It's horrible to see a child not to know how to comprehend what's happened to him, but you can," she tells NewsChannel 5 chief investigative reporter Phil Williams.

Mother: "On the little bus, what happened with you and the boy on the little bus?"
Gilbert: "The big boy?"
Mother: "Uh-huh."
Gilbert: "Me don't want to tell you."

"I hear an innocent, frightened little boy," she says.

Gilbert is an autistic 9 year old, whose mild mental retardation makes him seem more like 5.

"He just wants to be your friend," Lopez-Ruiz says. "He wants to be all giving. Anything you ask him, he'll do."

Yet, back in May, Gilbert's mom Kimberly had just learned that her son's innocence had somehow been shattered by a 19 year old on a Metro special education bus.

It's a place where his innocence should have been protected.

"Autistic children live in the box, so to speak. Wherever he's at, that's his world. So -- for instance -- on the bus, that was his bus, that's his world. And somebody violated his world."

Mother: "Please tell Mommy."
Gilbert: "Me trouble?"
Mother: "No, you're not in trouble."
Gilbert: "Me don't want to tell you."
Mother: "Mommy needs to know so we can make it never happen again. OK?"

Over and over, Gilbert's mom reassures her little boy that he hasn't done anything wrong.

Mother: "Did he ask you to do something?"
Gilbert: "Go back."
Mother: "Go to the back of the bus?"

Finally, Gilbert begins to open up about what he had experienced.

Mother: "What did he say?"
Gilbert: "He my friend."
Mother: "That he's your friend?"
Gilbert: "He want me to lick him pee-pee."

"You almost want to stop time and go back and say, is that what you really said," Lopez-Ruiz says.

Mother: "And what did you do?"
Gilbert: "Me do it."

"This boy asked him to do a sexual favor and my son followed through with it because that's what he thought being a friend meant."

Now, remember: this all occurred on a small special-education bus.

Which raises the question: why didn't the driver do more to protect Gilbert?

"There's only six seats on the bus, three on each side," Gilbert's mom says. "How could you not know if something is going on in a small bus?"

Even more disturbing, after Gilbert was assaulted, she says school officials -- at first -- kept it to themselves.

"I found out six days later," Lopez-Ruiz tells Williams.

"Six days later?" Williams asks.

"So my son rode the bus for five to six days more with the boy that did this to him."

Mother: "Gilbert, is there anything else you want to tell Mommy?"
Gilbert: "No."

These days, she says Gilbert can only express his pain in the most painful of ways.

He "asks you to cut his privates off, cries in the middle of the night, relives this, screams, don't want anybody to look at him, don't want anybody to touch him. How do you make that go away?"

And how does she keep her promise that it will never happen again?

"I want someone to say this is why this was allowed and I want someone to say, OK, it's never going to happen again and this is how we are going to stop it."

After contacting "NewsChannel 5 Investigates," Gilbert's mom also contacted an attorney.

Just before our story aired, they filed a class-action lawsuit against the school system on behalf of all special education students.

As to what Metro school officials are doing to protect your children, they claim their lawyers want them to concentrate on fending off the lawsuits and not going on camera to answer those questions.

Watch more videos and follow the stories at NC5 Investigates: Stories of Abuse

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