The historic St. George’s School in Middletown is in the center of a sexual abuse scandal that is gaining nationwide attention. Alumni of the educational and religious institution have claimed that the school illegally choose not to report sexual abuse allegations across several decades. It would appear that a loophole in the law has allowed accused teachers and administrators to avoid all charges and investigations by resigning upon the creation of the allegations. With no record of the allegation outside the school, the accused person could go on to find another teaching career elsewhere without a hitch.
Attorney Conlon of TJC ESQ believes that Rhode Island’s legislation is too vague and convoluted, allowing perpetrators to duck out of prosecution through resignation. He believes that in other cases parents fear that focus on the issue through legal action would only further upset their children and choose to do nothing. He has even come across evidence that suggests that, decades ago, the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) would not take the time to investigate any claim of sexual abuse at schools. But why would they allow something so controversial and shocking go unchecked?
Rhode Island does have a law that requires the mandatory reporting of abuse – sexual, emotional, or physical – as part of DCYF standards but it only applies to parents, legal guardians, and DCYF employees. Teachers and members of the clergy are not bound by this law for reasons largely undefined. A spokesperson of DCYF, Mr. Raia, has stated that allegations involving instructors should go to law enforcement officials due to the severity of the potential charges. If any claims were brought to the DCYF, they would pass it along to police and do nothing else.
There also comes the trouble that 16-year olds are permitted to consent to intercourse with their teachers in Rhode Island. The law, which shows no signs of being altered any time soon, may be permeating this idea that sexual abuse is not something to be handled directly, and that silence on the subject is appreciated, if not necessary.
You can read an article published by Rhode Island Public Radio, which features an interview with Providence Child Sexual Abuse Attorney Tim Conlon, here. If you have questions about legal representation for an abuse claim or family law issue of your own, you can call 401.216.4414 today to schedule a free initial consultation.