babylon
New York State Attorney General Letitia James in New York City, U.S., November 19, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office will investigate widespread allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct in the Babylon School District, James announced on Tuesday.

During a school board meeting last week, dozens of former Babylon High School students revealed their stories of experiencing alleged sexual misconduct by coaches and teachers. They came forward after a 28-year-old woman shared her story with News12 about a coach, who no longer works at the school, who she alleges groomed her from when she was 16 years old and then sexually abused her when she was in college. She also detailed the alleged abuse in a letter to the Babylon school board.

“Every student on Long Island and across New York deserves to feel safe and protected at school,” James said in a statement. “The reports of sexual abuse of students at the hands of their teachers and coaches are troubling and must be investigated.

“My office is launching an investigation into the Babylon School District over these disturbing allegations,” she continued. “The safety and wellbeing of students — both past and present — is of utmost importance, and we will do everything in our power to protect their right to a safe learning environment.”

Current Babylon High School students staged a walk-out in protest after hearing of the allegations against some of their teachers and coaches at the board meeting. The school district also reassigned five employees after the allegations made at the meeting.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone expressed support for James’ investigation and commended those who came forward.

“I am in awe of the courageous individuals who have come forward, both former and current students, to tell their stories,” Bellone said in a statement. “Their allegations must be thoroughly investigated and I’m confident that will now happen with the Attorney General’s investigation.

“Finally, as a parent with children who attend the Babylon school district, I also want to acknowledge the many outstanding teachers and professionals that I have personally encountered for the outstanding work they do for my kids and all of the children in our district,” he added.

According to News12, a former Babylon school board president had noticed a culture of sexual misconduct for many years but allegations were not taken seriously.

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the Suffolk County Police Department are also investigating the allegations, the DA’s office said in a statement.

“In light of the announcement of the civil investigation, the District Attorney’s Office and Police Department advise any person that believes he or she was the victim of a crime to contact the Suffolk County Police Department’s Special Victims Section at 631-852-6167,” the statement said.

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