Attorney alleges students were sexually abused at charter school

RIVERIA BEACH, FL (WFLX) - A lawsuit filed Monday in Palm Beach County Circuit Court alleges two autistic sisters were sexually assaulted multiple times by adult male students at Seagull Academy for Independent Living, or SAIL, a Riviera Beach charter school for the developmentally challenged.

Attorney Jeff Herman, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the defendants, alleges when the siblings were approximately 13 years old and students at the school, they were sexually assaulted multiple times on school grounds.

"They just kept saying, 'I don't want to go to school.' And they just kept telling me, but I would always tell them to tell a teacher. I didn't know it was that serious," the girls' mother, who did not want to be identified, said.

She said the sexual abuse started last year at the school and on field trips.

The lawsuit alleges the developmentally-challenged male students responsible ranged in ages from 20-22 -- a reason why Herman is blaming the school.

"You allow those populations to mix, which is a huge mistake, and, unfortunately, one of the foreseeable harms from doing that is that it leads to sexual assault," Herman said.

The lawsuit alleges school officials had noticed the sisters were sexually harassed or abused by other adult male students at SAIL.

The lawsuit also alleges the school has a systemic problem of adult male students sexually harassing, abusing and assaulting young female students.

The school claims this is the first it's heard of the allegations but says it's taking the matter seriously.

"If there are any accusations, we immediately investigate, no matter what the source is, that is our policy, "said Barbara Nuremberg with Seagull Services Inc.

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