CLEVELAND-The FOX 8 I-TEAM has found a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of the mother and father of Alianna DeFreeze, a seventh-grader sexually assaulted and murdered in Cleveland on her way to school.
The suit targets the school for not notifying Alianna’s parents when she didn’t show up for classes on the day of the crime. And the lawsuit also targets the city for not doing more about abandoned buildings including the one where Alianna was found murdered.
The murder happened in January 2017. A convicted sex offender, Christopher Whitaker, was convicted in this case, and he sits on death row.
Attorney F. Allen Boseman wrote in the complaint, “Alianna’s life was lost prematurely in one of the most violent ways imaginable while suffering from excruciating pain and mental distress….her parents, now have to deal with the devastating reality and grief associated with their daughter’s gruesome torture, rape and death and the diabolical plan to cover up negligent conduct for the rest of their lives.”
Alianna attended a charter school on Cleveland’s southeast side, E Prep and Village Prep Woodland Hills. The school is named in the lawsuit along with the organization over the school, Friends of Breakthrough Schools.
The suit says “Defendants School System utterly and without question breached a critical duty owed to each and every parent to provide notice of a missing child—no text messages, phone calls, emails or any other form of communication…”
It goes on to say, “Defendants have tried to cover up their fatal inaction by claiming that they sent (Alianna’s mother) a message…notifying her of Alianna’s absence, but that the system malfunctioned….Upon information and belief, Defendants school system have lied about their action of sending a message…’
Alan Rosskamm of Breakthrough Schools, the parent organization for 11 charter schools including the one Alianna attended released the following statement to FOX 8 regarding the lawsuit, “We can’t comment on pending litigation. Alianna’s loss was a tremendous loss to our entire community. We’ve done our best to be supportive of her parents.
Alianna’s body was found in a vacant home. The suit also attacks the City of Cleveland citing the city’s “knowledge of the violent crimes committed in abandoned properties and their failure to oversee and/or demolish them.”
The lawsuit asks for “compensatory and punitive damages”, and “relief” for pain and suffering and more.
We have reached out to the Friends of Breakthrough Schools for comment.
Just this weekend, friends and loved ones of Alianna remembered her death releasing balloons and calling for more security for kids walking to school.
Since the case began state lawmakers have passed a new statute requiring schools to call parents within two hours of the school day if a child is marked absent and parents have not provided prior notification to the school. The new law takes effect in April.