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Settlements Reached by Tremont Sheldon P.C. for Two Victims of Teacher Sex Abuse Against Newington Board of Education

Two gentlemen, represented by TSRM, reached confidential settlements against the Newington Board of Education as a result of being sexually abused as children by a long-term substitute teacher, James Brown, who was employed in the physical education department at the John Wallace Middle School in 1989-1990. The victims claimed that after gym class, Brown forced the boys, ages 12 and 13, to shower naked while he watched. If they refused, he threatened to flunk them. At times, Brown showered naked with the boys. Their claims included that Brown tried to touch them while they were naked and exposed his genitals while demonstrating how to use a jock strap. The victims claim that even though Brown’s improper conduct was reported to Brown’s supervisor and the school principal, he was allowed to continue to teach and the school failed to report the conduct to the authorities in accordance with mandatory reporting laws.

Additional complaints against Brown included that he took 5th grade boys to a whirlpool naked and picked up one of the naked boys so that the boy’s genitals were near Brown’s face. After the incident was investigated by the school board, a school board member who took part in the investigation still wrote a letter of recommendation for Brown. Students and a parent at Newington High School also complained that Brown was improperly watching the boys on the cross country team shower naked. Finally, in 1995, under threat of termination due to the misconduct, Brown was allowed to resign. He went on to teach at St. Mary’s School where, in 1999, he was arrested for improper conduct with minor students there. Brown eventually pled guilty to several counts of risk of injury to a minor.

The victims claim that their childhood sexual abuse by Brown has caused them a great deal of ongoing harm including embarrassment, humiliation, guilt, shame and trauma which has impacted their self-esteem and self-confidence.

When TSRM first made a Freedom of Information request for Brown’s public school file, the Board of Education failed to provide any information documenting these complaints. Instead, a separate file on Brown regarding complaints was turned over only after a lawsuit was filed.

Attorney of the firm who represented the victims said, “Currently we are seeing news reports where school systems, both public and private, are hiding and/or disguising child abuse. We believe that if the Newington school board had acted properly, Brown would have been reported and removed. Instead, he went on to another school where he abused more children.” After learning of Brown’s improper conduct, Brown’s supervisor at Newington wrote a letter of recommendation for Brown indicating that Brown was “not a risk” but “a sure thing” and “definitely one of Newington High School’s outstanding young adults” who “would most definitely be a positive influence in any school system.”