NY AG launches probe into alleged sexual abuse, misconduct at Babylon School District
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the launch of an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct at Babylon School District Tuesday after dozens of former students came forward.
"Every student on Long Island and across New York deserves to feel safe and protected at school," said James in written statement. "The reports of sexual abuse of students at the hands of their teachers and coaches are troubling and must be investigated. My office is launching an investigation into the Babylon School District over these disturbing allegations. The safety and wellbeing of students — both past and present — is of utmost importance, and we will do everything in our power to protect their right to a safe learning environment."
News 12 reported on Nov. 11 that Brittany Rohl, a graduate from Babylon High School, said she was groomed at a young age and then sexually abused by a former teacher and coach. She said it then developed into a toxic, controlling relationship while she was in college.
Now, 28, Rohl recently sent an eight-page letter to the Babylon School Board providing a detailed timeline, including when she claims the grooming began, an inappropriate text at the senior prom and the first time the two engaged in sexual intercourse immediately after her 18th birthday.
After Rohl came forward, so did others. Former students identified several different teachers and coaches at the Babylon School District as alleged abusers.
Those who came forward with allegations of abuse say it's about time something is being done.
"I am relieved because anytime you have an outside investigator that's not biased, you're going to get answers," says Barbara Maier.
Darcy Bennet says the most important thing is that change is happening.
"And that no kid has to worry about getting sexually assaulted while going to school," Bennett says.
Many local leaders say this is an issue that should be addressed statewide. State Sen. Phil Boyle says he is calling on the state Senate and Assembly education committees to hold a series of hearings around the state to get to the bottom of the issue.
The Babylon school district has assured law enforcement, the New York State Attorney General's Office, and the New York State Department of Education of the district's full cooperation with any, and all investigations they undertake.
In addition, the district has been in contact with Laura Ahearn of the Crime Victims Center, to provide direct services to victims and to provide additional training to the Babylon School District staff and students."
"We have already worked with the school board and the superintendent to make the reporting process more comfortable for kids in the school," Ahearn says. "We've also scheduled educational programs for parents, for teachers....sexual harassment training for teachers. And also we've done educational programs for students.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone released a statement, saying "I applaud Attorney General James for launching an investigation into the serious allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct made recently by former Baby High School students. I am confident that the attorney general will uncover the truth and demand accountability. I am in awe of the courageous individuals who have come forward, both former and current students, to tell their stories. Their allegations must be thoroughly investigated and I'm confident that will now happen with the attorney general's investigation. Finally, as a parent with children who attend the Babylon school district, I also want to acknowledge the many outstanding teachers and professionals that I have personally encountered for the outstanding work they do for my kids and all of the children in our district."
There is an email address set up called Thisendshereandnow@gmail.com. It is for any survivors from any school district to tell their stories.
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