Moving Quickly To Address Allegations Of Child Sexual Abuse Can Prevent Litigation...Sometimes

Written exclusively for My Community Workplace for Religious Organizations

A former fifth-grade teacher at a religious elementary school is facing over 100 felony and 39 misdemeanor charges involving sexual abuse and exploitation of students at the school. The incidents occurred at the school and other various locations, and continued for more than four years.

The school suspended the teacher immediately following the initial complaint of inappropriate conduct, and then terminated him after his arrest.

Police continue to investigate, and the school is encouraging any who have suffered abuse to come forward. Alex Boisjolie "Elementary teacher at Iowa Christian school faces 101 felonies for child sexual abuse," globegazette.com (Nov. 9, 2017).


Commentary and Checklist

The school in this case acted quickly to remove the offender when a complaint was made; however, investigators soon discovered that the abuse had occurred over a four-year period. It is not clear whether suspicions were raised during that time, yet were not acted upon.

When administrators do not address suspected abuse, the results can include civil charges against the school for failing to protect the students, as well as criminal charges against the individual(s) who did not report the abuse.

States designate mandatory reporters of child sexual abuse, and teachers are included. Failure to do so can result in criminal charges. In addition, an abusive situation that has continued for a lengthy period of time will undoubtedly lead to a decrease in the community’s trust, and a subsequent drop in enrollment.

Organizations can lower their risk by training all administration, staff, volunteers, and parents on child sexual abuse. Make sure everyone who works with or around students understands it is their responsibility to report any suspicious behavior that they hear about or witness.

The following are child predator behaviors that can be cause for concern and may signify abuse:
 

  • Spending an inordinate amount of time with a student and his or her family
  • Frequent inquiries or unusual interest in a student's activities
  • Giving gifts or money to a student for no particular reason without the parent or caregiver's consent
  • Giving a student special treatment or attention not provided to other students, such as one-to-one private tutoring or coaching
  • Acting very charming and friendly toward a student, or behaving in a childlike manner;
  • Hugging, touching, kissing, tickling or wrestling with a student
  • Having a secretive relationship with a student such as through texting.
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