Students Come Forward on Social Media to Allege Abuse
Officials at Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) announced early this week that they are actively investigating a series of sexual abuse and harassment allegations within the school district. The announcement was made shortly after students came forward on MCPS Instagram pages to post over 100 allegations of sexual abuse, violence, and harassment during their time at these schools.
According to these allegations, sexual abuse has been unchecked within at least 12 different Montgomery County Public Schools, including Blair High School, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Thomas S. Wootton, and Albert Einstein. The allegations range in scale from sexual harassment over nude photos to rape and sexual assault.
MCPS is cooperating with the Montgomery County Police Department and the Special Victims Investigations Division in this sensitive matter. Although many of the students chose to remain anonymous in their public social media posts, MCPS and the Police Department are working to identify the students while respecting their right to confidentiality.
Defining the Problem: Institutional Sex Abuse
Whether committed by peers or teachers, school sexual abuse can wreak havoc on a victim’s mental health and wellbeing for years to come. While MCPS denies that it had any previous knowledge of these sexual abuse allegations, the unfortunate reality is that many school systems fail to take proper measures to prevent and remedy a culture of abuse and harassment. This is known as institutional sex abuse, and thanks to the #MeToo movement and greater societal recognition of the role that institutions play in perpetuating abuse, many institutions with pervasive problems have been forced to account for their actions and rectify victims’ losses. Under federal laws such as Title IX, in addition to state laws, schools that fail to take appropriate measures to address and correct sexually hostile educational environments can be held accountable.
In the school setting, institutional sexual abuse is complicated and can take many forms, but in general, it is defined by some of the following problems:
- Lack of sexual abuse training among professionals who work with children and teenagers
- Failure to background check teachers and childcare professionals
- Ignoring sexual abuse claims when they arise or refusing to take administrative action
- Failure to notice the signs of pervasive sexual abuse and harassment among students
- Discouraging victims from filing lawsuits or reporting instances of abuse
- Failing to properly investigate reports of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment
If you suffered from sexual abuse or harassment during your time at an MCPS educational facility, it’s important to report it to the investigators and/or authorities as soon as possible. In some cases, you may also be entitled to file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrators and any other responsible parties.
At Ashcraft & Gerel, our caring and experienced sexual abuse attorneys have decades of experience handling these sensitive claims, and it is our sole goal to help you achieve justice. With $1 billion won for injury victims in the last 65 years, our committed lawyers can help you understand all your legal options and fight for a fair outcome on your behalf.
Contact us today at (800) 674-9725 if you’d like to discuss a sexual abuse claim related to the recent MCPS allegations. We serve clients in Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland.