A civil lawsuit has been filed against the Newington Board of Education as a result of two former students’ claims of sexual abuse by James Brown, a former physical education instructor at the John Wallace Middle School in Newington, Connecticut. The assaults took place in the school’s gym locker room showers during the school day during the 1989-1990 school year. At the time, Brown was serving as a long-term substitute for the regular classroom teacher who was out on leave.
Among the allegations, the victims claim that the Newington Board of Education failed to enforce rules prohibiting teachers from having unsupervised and chaperoned access to children and further claims that the school board should have realized that students were at risk from Brown’s conduct. In 2002, Brown was sentenced to two years in prison for sexually molesting boys at St. Mary’s Catholic School where he taught gym after leaving John Wallace. Those allegations included that Brown encourage boys at St. Mary’s to masturbate as he screened pornography in his school office. It was alleged that Brown waived student detention if the boys would shower in front of him.
In the present suit, the plaintiffs claim that they were sexually abused, assaulted and exploited by Brown while they were middle school students at the school. The plaintiffs claim that they were routinely forced to take group showers together naked while Brown watched them for his own sexual pleasure. There were also times when Brown showered with the boys.
According to Cindy Robinson of Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney, who filed the suit, “This is a very disturbing case where a teacher with very little experience was given the opportunity to take advantage of numerous boys for his own perverted gratification. The parents of these boys obviously entrusted the school board to keep their boys safe and instead they were delivered to a sexual predator.” Attorney Robinson said that the ongoing episodes of abuse directed at adolescent boys caused the victims extreme embarrassment, shame, emotional upset and severely affected their self-esteem.”