A sexual assault in a Long Island high school, said to be a long-standing “open secret” in the community, was brought to the forefront through more than twenty students, who have come forward to share their difficult memories of sexual abuse.
In a hearing held on Nov. 15, the charges against coaches and teachers at Babylon High School included instances of grooming, kissing attempts, and inappropriate and lewd physical contact with the purpose of improving the form of student-athletes.
“The bad guys were everywhere,” former student Brittany Rohl told News 12, “and the good guys sat back and watched.”
Rohl 28-year-old Rohl shook off the Babylon controversy by sending an eight-page letter to Babylon Union Free School District earlier in the month, claiming the track instructor made her a sex target and waited until days following her 18th birthday to declare her virginity. She continued to be abused throughout her second year at college, she claimed, and was monitoring her on “an hourly basis.”
Rohl said she was inspired to take action after observing her teacher was removed from the classroom just a few weeks prior to that over “disturbing allegations.”
The letter, uploaded to Instagram went to the top of the list. The school district planned for a meeting on Monday, November. 15. Rohl who lives in Florida returned home via the beachside community of 12,000 people to take part in the.
More than 100 people attended in person, and more than 1,000 people logged on to watch the show on Zoom.
The meeting began with officials announcing that they will be hiring an outside investigator as well as implementing sensitivity training. They requested that students or alumni as well as parents limit their time speaking up to 3 minutes as per the Independent.
Rohl came up at the beginning of the podium, stating that she’d continue speaking for the length she needed. In the event that she said she would name teachers, she suspected to be abusive She was advised by a lawyer in the area that naming teachers accused of abuse could be defamation, which could cause some uproar.
When the noise had quieted to a minimum, Rohl spoke again. “To the parents of this community,” she stated according to the the Patch, “I would advise you that until the following individuals are removed from student contact, it’s not safe to send your children to school here.”
“[He] pressed his body against mine, ground against me, and then moved his body in a way to show me the right way to serve, and I was 14 at the time.”
She listed four current teachers as well as six former ones. Her remarks were greeted by applause. Women lined up in front of her to give her a speech. Many were emotional and crying during the speech.
A 2009 graduate from Babylon, Darcy Bennet, stated that her tennis coach frequently made comments about her body, and at one point, tried to kiss her at home. “Luckily, I was able to move my face in time so that he only kissed me on the cheek,” she explained.
She was giddy while she talked about how teachers would use racquets in order to knock students with the butt, then run them through the students’ legs and then up their skirts.
“[He] pressed his body against mine, ground against me, and then moved his body in a way to show me the right way to serve,” Bennet told CBS New York, “and I was 14 at the time.”
Bennet stated that she had made a report to the guidance counselors who reprimanded him from the coaching position. He was still an educator in the district.
“We were basically screaming for help,” Bennet said to Newsday, “but Babylon didn’t do anything to help us.” Bennet told the group that she was later diagnosed with problems with substance abuse which “spiraled into a deep depression.”
Another woman, who is now a public defender, was able to graduate in 2011 along with Rohl. She explained that in her job the forceful touching of an instructor–similar to what she had experienced–will result in an infraction of a misdemeanor and sex offender status.
“In Babylon, you get a giant pension,” she added.
Another alumna, Katherine Crawford, spoke to News 12 on Thursday, describing how her requests for help were ignored when she was harassed sexually by other students. “The principal would constantly tell me it was my fault,” Crawford stated. “I should not dress as I do. I shouldn’t dress as I dress. I’m beautiful, and this is the way it goes.”
Crawford claimed she switched to homeschooling, completing her studies one year earlier to get out of the shackles of community.
“I believe it was a public secret. However, there were a few that had the courage to challenge it. It was an integral part of the norm. It wasn’t one or two teachers.”
Following allegations that were made, the board of education placed five teachers on reassignment and sent them to their homes. The superintendent of the district, Linda Rozzi, did not identify them in her statement issued on Tuesday.
“As these are all matters pertaining to personnel and individuals are protected under privacy laws, the district is limited in sharing further information,” she explained. “However, it is important to know that the district does not tolerate abuse of any kind, takes all allegations very seriously, and is committed to acting upon each and every claim we receive.”
“I think it was an open secret,” Linda Scordino who was a former school board president told News 12 last week. “But there were a few who were brave enough to stand up against the issue. It was an integral part of the norm. It wasn’t one or two teachers.”
Scordino is her husband’s former mayor and was on the Babylon Union Free School District’s board Babylon Union Free School District between 1994 and 2000. Through an open letter that she posted on Facebook, she said she started hearing “very disturbing things” about teachers and coaches.
“The same teachers’ names kept coming up, again and again,” she said, adding she believed that the bulk of negative teachers were the most well-known ones among parents “It was like a made-for-TV movie.”
People who made complaints were provided with “the same stock line,” according to Scordino the child was not aware and the teacher was resigning it was the first time a complaint had been received.
Scordino said she attempted to speak out during the incident, but was told that she “wasn’t playing ball.” The teacher’s president union said to the teacher, “We’ll make sure you can never prove it.” A different official claimed she was warned: “Keep your mouth shut or you’ll ruin our real estate values.”
She was also present at the meeting on Monday and read aloud portions of her letter. Scordino claimed she had the pleasure of inviting Rozzi to her house after she relocated to Babylon for her to “ask her for help.” Rozzi, Scordino alleged was there with an official from the board. “I outlined everything to her,” Scordino stated. “It is just so infuriating to me when I hear her say, ‘We didn’t know anything about any of this.'”
The daughter of Scordino who was also victimized while attending Babylon stood by her, confirming her mother’s allegations.
Students and parents did not leave the room until the five teachers who are still working for the school district are removed from the school premises. The board then entered an executive meeting in an emergency.
The meeting was concluded around 1 a.m. The board reconvened to announce that the teachers who were publicly accused were to have to be “reassigned” to their homes until the investigation is completed.
“It takes a village to raise a child, and we failed.”
The next day, hundreds of students took part in the walkout. The principal Al Cirrone circulated a letter to families praising them. “It takes a lot of courage for young adults to advocate for change and we are proud of them for using their voice,” the principal wrote. “The safety, security, and well-being of our students remain our top priority.”
The school has enlisted an outside special counsel Chris Powers of Ingerman Smith, LLP, to look into the allegations.
A father of two Babylon High graduates, Kenneth Silverman wrote in a letter sent last week that he’d asked to the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State Attorney General to open its own dossier regarding the school district. He also said that he and other parents were skeptical of an investigation that was overseen by the school board or administrators.
According to local media, Suffolk Police Department’s Special Victims Unit is now engaged in an investigation into schools in the district. There haven’t been any criminal allegations submitted.
“It shouldn’t have taken us until one o’clock in the morning to convince them to remove them from student contact,” Rohl stated to News 12. “It should take one complaint.”
“It takes a village to raise a child,” Scordino told the gathering, “and we failed.