BABYLON, N.Y. — When a former teammate told Brittany Rohl that she had to warn her little sister about certain teachers at Babylon High School, she knew it was time to come forward.
Rohl, 28, graduated Babylon Junior-Senior High School a decade ago, but she recently penned an eight-page open letter to the Board of Education detailing years of alleged sexual abuse at the hands of her high school track coach.
Since then, more people have come forward with their own allegations that they were sexually groomed and victimized by teachers or coaches while they were students. Nearly a dozen current or former staff members have been named, sparking an investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office.
Rohl sat down with PIX11 News’ Kala Rama on Tuesday to discuss the letter and what she described as “predators” being protected by the school system. You can watch the full interview live at 5 p.m. on PIX11 News.
“Part of what I loved about lacrosse was running. I felt like I was fast, and I wanted to be noticed for it, so I was a sprinter. And he told me I was special. He told me he was the only one who could see my potential,” she said. “He sat me down in the bleachers just days after graduation. And he said that he wanted to take my virginity because no one could love me like he did. And I remember just freezing.”
She also said it wasn’t just her track coach; students had a long list of teachers to avoid.
Rohl flew from Florida to New York last week to speak at a school board meeting, where she named four current teachers and six former staff members.
She said her goal in coming forward was to make sure current students and parents were aware of what was happening.
“And so, if we could only kind of expose the playbook so that students and parents can know what to look for, then I think that is a silver lining to the mess of this,” Rohl said.
Another Babylon High School graduate, Darcy Orlando Bennett, said she too sounded the alarm when her tennis coach tried to kiss her. But she said school officials didn’t do enough to protect her.
“The outcome of the investigation is that he was taken off as a tennis coach but able to work as a special education teacher,” she said. “The next year, a new coach was on and I quit playing tennis. I started drinking heavily, doing drugs. I spiraled into a deep depression.”
Lawmakers now say they want students to know they are trying to make it right.
“As a parent, when you send your kids to school every day you are entrusting those [people] to take care of them and make sure they are safe,” State Assemblyman Michael Durso said.
A spokesperson for the Babylon School District told PIX11 News on Tuesday that they had received “a series of reports” regarding current and former staff members, which are being investigated. School officials will cooperate with the attorney general’s office and state Department of Education in all investigations, the spokesperson said.
“In addition, the district has been in contact with Laura Ahearn of the Crime Victims Center, to provide direct services to victims and to provide additional training to the Babylon School District staff and students,” the spokesperson added.