Arrests of CT teachers and coaches spark calls to action to protect young people

0

A leader of the Connecticut General Assembly Committee on Children said “not enough” was being done by state lawmakers and regulators to prevent and respond to child abuse, following a recent spate of abuse. ‘allegations involving educators and coaches.

State Representative Liz Linehan D-Cheshire calls for longer prison terms and stricter monitoring requirements for convicted abusers, extending the statute of limitations for prosecuting commissioned journalists who fail to speak and imposing other measures that she said would allow school administrators and parents to better monitor signs of abuse.

“We can avoid it by doing background checks, and I think that’s going to eliminate some of them, but it’s definitely not going to eliminate everything,” Linehan said. “In addition to prevention by preventing people who want to harm children from entering, we must now consider prevention through education of children and parents. We need to make them more comfortable expressing themselves.

Linehan’s comments follow the arrests of two Connecticut educators this month and the investigation of a third for alleged misconduct.

An Amateur Athletic Union basketball coach also faces federal and state charges for allegedly sexually assaulting several members of the Hartford program, run by his girlfriend, WNBA player Bria Holmes, according to court documents .

Danny Lawhorn, 30, of Hartford, faces federal child seduction charges related to alleged sexual assault of three girl members of the program, which features high school players for being noticed by college recruiters, according to court documents.

The FBI began investigating the coach after one of his players, a 17-year-old girl, accused him of sexual assault, court documents show. The FBI said it has since identified two more victims and is investigating if there are any more.

A federal judge ruled last week that Lawhorn must remain in prison even if he posts a bond because he presents a risk of absconding.

Rockville High School teacher Christian Stevenson also remains in jail after being arrested on October 18 on charges of child pornography and voyeurism. Stevenson did not plead guilty and is expected to appear in Tolland State Superior Court on Friday, court records show.

Police said Stevenson surreptitiously took photos of at least two high school students, in addition to other child pornography images allegedly found on his computer and iPad.

Days before Stevenson’s arrest, Montville school officials announced on October 15 that high school football coach Tanner Grover had been placed on leave pending the outcome of a police investigation. State and Department of Children and Families. Grover has not been charged and no arrests have been made.

And in a case spanning two school districts, police arrested former Plainfield Central School teacher Craig McCue on October 12 and charged him with risk of injury in a minor and fourth degree sexual assault as part of of a series of alleged incidents involving three students. at school, where McCue taught social studies in eighth grade.

Police said McCue received photos of the shirtless boys and provided them with marijuana. At least two of the boys accused McCue of being “maninous” and touching them inappropriately, according to several warrants filed in the case.

These warrants also indicate that McCue was previously investigated and fired from the North Stonington School District, where he served as a coach at Wheeler High School. McCue reportedly admitted to buying condoms for four young boys after a basketball game, according to the arrest warrants. McCue did not plead guilty and is scheduled to appear Dec. 1 in State Superior Court in Danielson, court records show.

Neither McCue nor Tanner responded to requests for comment on Friday. Stevenson’s attorneys did not return a request for comment.

Eric Scoville, spokesperson for the Connecticut Department of Education, said State Law requires the agency to conduct a criminal background check and search the DCF Child Abuse and Neglect Registry for all applicants for a teaching certificate. Names in the certification database are also subject to a criminal record check “periodically,” Scoville said.

Connecticut also has an “exceptional” record of using a national database of teachers’ disciplinary actions maintained by the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Training and Certification, according to group executive director Phillip Rogers.

This database contains the names of 112,000 educators who have been formally sanctioned for misconduct, Rogers said.

While this wealth of information is available for Connecticut state regulators to check with any teacher requesting a certificate, Rogers said no school district in the state has a base subscription. data to check the background of less regulated jobs such as paraprofessionals, babysitters or volunteers.

The effectiveness of even the most stringent background checks, however, is limited in cases involving licensed educators without a history of disciplinary action. Rogers and Linehan have said abusers can fall through the cracks when information is treated as “rumors” and school staff, including reporters charged with abuse, fail to speak out.

“There is someone who suspected something long before someone got caught, I guarantee that,” Rogers said.

Linehan said that in addition to extending the state’s one-year statute of limitations to prosecute a journalist’s failure to report abuse or neglect, she hopes to table a bill in the next legislative session requiring the Department of Public Health to include questions in a student questionnaire distributed to random schools this will help officials investigate the prevalence of abuse.

Similar legislation was tabled by Linehan in the 2021 legislative session and was passed by the House, but did not receive a vote in the Senate.

Neither the Chairman of the Legislative Assembly’s Committee on Education, Senator Douglas McCrory, D-Hartford, nor Representative Robert Sanchez, D-New Britain, could be reached for comment last week, according to their press officers.

During the session, Linehan and his fellow lawmakers passed a law require youth camps and some non-profit organizations sponsoring youth athletic programs to conduct background checks on coaches, and a anti-grooming bill. Nonetheless, she said more could be done to strengthen laws regarding the investigation of abuse and the information school officials must share with each other.

“These issues are definitely not being followed up.” said Linehan. “The problem is that a lot of times someone leaves when we talk about a problem and a school district doesn’t necessarily investigate. If so, there is no record of it, and that teacher can go and teach anywhere.

Scoville said school officials must notify the state’s Board of Education if they learn that a licensed teacher has been convicted of a felony. If a certified teacher is fired or resigns as a result of a determination of abuse, their superintendent must notify the state education commissioner within 72 hours.

In the case of McCue, the teacher and coach who was charged with misconduct in two school districts before his arrest this month, the two superintendents said they took appropriate action after learning of the allegations.

Peter Nero, the superintendent of the North Stonington school district where McCue worked as a basketball coach, said Daily newspaper that the district had not received any complaints about McCue until the January indictment.

Nero said McCue was fired following a brief investigation into the allegation, and his office notified DCF and continued to cooperate with “the police, DCF and the Department of Education. State”.

At the time of this investigation, McCue was also on leave from his teaching post at Plainfield, according to a statement released by Superintendent Paul M. Brenton. No charges were laid in the previous case, and Brenton said McCue was reinstated in February until a second police investigation began in May. McCue was suspended for a second time in May, when he resigned.

Scoville also defended the actions of the Department of Education regarding the issue.

“The department has been notified of the actions in accordance with the law, an investigation has been completed and all legal requirements have been met,” Scoville said in an email. “This educator no longer holds an Active Educator Certificate from Connecticut.”


Source link

Share.

Comments are closed.