New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced that an investigation would be opened into Babylon High School on Long Island after an avalanche of allegations of sexual misconduct by former students sparked an uproar total in the small seaside community.
“Every student on Long Island and New York deserves to feel safe and protected at school,” AG James wrote in a statement Tuesday. “Reports of sexual abuse of students by their teachers and coaches are disturbing and should be investigated.”
Allegations of misconduct began to swirl earlier this month after Brittany Rohl, a 28-year-old doctoral student now living in Florida, wrote a letter to the school and district and posted it on social media .
In excruciating detail, she wrote that she was treated by a teacher / trainer twice her age while still a student, and the contact turned physical in the days following graduation. of his diploma.
Over the summer, after her 18th birthday, the relationship became sexual and controlling and essentially destroyed her college experience and her sanity, she said. The independent after posting the letter online.
Ms. Rohl flew out from Florida to attend a school district reunion on November 15. She not only detailed her own abuse, but publicly named several other teachers despite defamation warnings. Victims started lining up behind her, sharing their stories, often bursting into tears and needing comfort from friends and family.
Sometimes the meeting got tumultuous with people yelling at each other and at least one person was kicked out.
Ms Rohl says she came forward after another teacher – an educator she knew but not the same man she said treated her – was taken out of the classroom in recent weeks.
A handful of others have also been assigned to work from home following the avalanche of abuse complaints.
As she prepared to rest and celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday, Ms Rohl said The independent this announcement of a state investigation left her “relieved”.
“I think we need the outside pressure,” she said. “I am really looking forward to the results. I never thought it would go this far, and I think for me that kind of symbolizes that we got out of [what] people call it the “bubble of Babylon,” where things are contained.
“I guess they’re going to do a full investigation and talk to everyone. I really hope.”
The large number of victims who have come forward – with stories involving multiple teachers and coaches – supported many of their claims that the issue was an ‘open secret’ swept under the rug in a close-knit community about an hour away. eastern New York.
A speaker at the November 15 meeting, now working as a public defender, graduated from 2011 with Ms Rohl and said she was hesitant to come forward because her own story was so similar to the others being told – but that in and of itself should indicate what the culture looked like, she suggested.
“It was so common that it became … it was so normal,” she said, adding that in her job forced touching would justify a misdemeanor and a place on the sex offender registry. .
“In Babylon you get a giant pension,” she said to applause.
A walkout of current students followed the meeting,
Linda Scordino, former president of the school board and wife of the late mayor of Babylon, told News 12 that “it was an open secret” and “there were very few people who had the courage to fight it. It was part of the culture. There weren’t just one or two teachers ”.
She wrote on Facebook that “the same names of teachers kept coming up over and over again.”
In a statement this week, District Superintendent Linda Rozzi said, “As these are all matters concerning staff and individuals are protected by privacy laws, the district is limited in sharing additional information.
“However, it is important to know that the District does not tolerate any abuse of any kind, takes all allegations very seriously, and is committed to following up on every complaint we receive.”
This was hardly comforting to many of the women who shared their own painful experiences. Mrs. Rohl tells The independent she has now launched a new website, buildinghopeandsafety.org, which she hopes will help support victims and “keep the conversation moving forward.”
“For decades, students in Babylon have eagerly entered their first day of college, naive of what the next six years might hold for them,” says the site, which links to victim resources, lines assistance for assaults and crises.
“For decades, parents in Babylon have dropped their children off at the school gate, blissfully oblivious to what awaits them on the other side.
“For decades the Babylon elders struggled to cope with the impact of their high school years and trauma… The BHS Foundation is a group that will do everything in its power to right these wrongs. Made up of passionate alumni, parents, current students and community members, the BHS Foundation will educate, advocate and collaborate to build a better Babylon.
The Independent Gt