MADISON (WKOW) -- Questions about how an African American Janesville teen was treated by the driver of a city bus may end up playing out in court. The boy's family filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday.
It all stems from an exchange that happened on November 7. Surveillance video obtained by the Janesville Gazette and posted on YouTube shows a woman getting on the bus. "You're not disabled so why don't you move and let the lady sit down please?" bus driver Mary Lesko says in the video.
A woman gets up, when Lesko says, "Young man, number 31." She appears to be addressing the teen whose family filed the lawsuit. He's wearing a red jersey with the number "31" on it. When he appears to contest moving, Lesko says, "But you can move to the back too because you don't belong down here."
The 15-year-old's family says Lesko violated rights granted to him under the fourteenth amendment. The court documents state there were five open seats in the priority seating area when an allegedly elderly or disabled person got on board. It says the teen, identified as D.T. in the suit, was ejected from the bus with "discriminatory intent."
"I wish the parents would teach them something," Lesko goes on to say after D.T. exits the bus. "He was cussing on the bus. I asked him to move from the disabled area because an elderly disabled person got on my bus, and he used, ya know, bad language, "F" and this and that," Lesko says. It is difficult to hear exactly what D.T. says in the video.
The lawsuit also points out there were other people sitting in the same section, one other also appears to be a teen, but it says D.T. was singled out. They're seeking damages in an amount to be determined at trial.
Lesko has since retired. She declined an interview with 27 News Tuesday, she says on the advice of a city attorney. The city of Janesville is not named in the lawsuit. We reached out to them for comment and have not heard back.
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