The city of Stamford announced on Thursday February 15th that they will pay $3.25 million to settle a school sexual assault case. The five men in the lawsuit claimed they were sexually assaulted by a teacher in elementary school.
A sexual predator
The teacher, Robert Martinez, taught physical education at the Rogers Elementary School from 1972-1982. The five men in the lawsuit were abused by Martinez from 1975-1981. Martinez would find ways to be alone with a student and then perform molestation acts. His two preferred methods for getting children alone were offering extra gym time to a student as a reward and having a student stay behind after class to put away equipment. Martinez’s office was a favored abuse location; a man in the lawsuit spoke of how Martinez would close the blinds to his office before the sexual assault occurred.
Martinez was visibly overly affectionate with male students. He often held students in his lap and touched their chests and nipples under their clothing. He also rubbed the backs of students while they waited for dismissal. These acts of invasive physical contact were done openly, often in front of a class of children. His partiality to physical contact earned him two derogatory nicknames from students, “Chester the Molester” and “Big Al the Kiddies’ Pal”.
Despite his affinity for touching male students and spending time alone with them, school officials failed to intervene. Their negligence allowed to abuse to continue for years.
A lifetime of struggle
Adults who suffered sexual abuse as a child often struggle with long term effects. Feelings of shame, guilt and blame are persistent, as victims feel they should have been able to stop the abuse. Often victims grapple with intimacy problems and have difficulties in relationships. Victims have low self-esteem that can morph into depression and anxiety disorders. Substance abuse to dilute the painful memories is common. The former students in the suit were too scared to report the abuse as children and struggled with the long term effects of the abuse into adulthood. Other victims have approached our firm and told similar stories of abuse.
Sadly, child sexual abuse is all too common, with a child being sexually assaulted every eight minutes in the U.S. In child sexual abuse cases, 93 percent of the children know the perpetrator. Teachers, school officials and child care providers alike have the fundamental duty of protecting children from sexual predators. No child should experience sexual abuse and victims should have an opportunity to seek financial justice.