Last month, a school superintendent was indicted in connection with a report that a school teacher had sexually abused a disabled child. The Indictment alleges that instead, the administrator attempted to hide the allegations from police, lied to police and then went about firing or removing other school employees who had gained knowledge of her acts. The official was charged with:
- Official Misconduct
- Hindering Prosecution, and
- Obstructing the Administration of Law.
The charges stem from an incident in 2009, when the school administrator received an email from a school principal indicating that a disabled child stated that a teacher had touched the child’s private parts in the school bathroom.
According to the Indictment, the next day, the school administrator then contacted several school officials. Read the Indictment here. Later that afternoon, when interviewed by police, the administrator denied having had knowledge of the alleged sex abuse until just before police arrived. Later that evening, she is alleged to have directed the school district’s IT personnel to extract related emails. The Indictment also alleges that subsequently, district employees who had knowledge of the incident and the administrator’s involvement were fired, removed or otherwise forced to retire.
Schools & Reports of Sex Abuse by a Teacher, Coach, Etc.
If true, these allegations highlight a harsh reality in the problem of how schools deal with reports of sex abuse by teachers, coaches, etc. It’s important to note that not every report of sex abuse will be true. No one can deny the fact that an allegation of sex abuse is just that, an allegation, until proven otherwise. In this particular case, the allegation of sex abuse was determined to be unsubstantiated after investigation by law enforcement.
However, in many cases, when school officials receive reports of sex abuse of students, improper action is taken. How a school employee reacts (or fails to react) to a report of sex abuse depends on how well the employee is trained about school policies and procedures, if such policies and procedures even exist.
Oftentimes, a school will fail to have any policies and procedures in place or fail to train employees about those procedures. These types of actions and inactions may lead to additional acts of sex abuse. For instance, in a situation where a school principal receives a report that a coach has sexually assaulted a student but does nothing about the report, the victim may be subjected to additional abuse and other students may be abused as well.
Related Legal Article: New Jersey Child Sex Abuse in Schools – The Statute of Limitations