BABYLON, N.Y. — Allegations of widespread sexual abuse by educators and coaches at a Long Island high school will be investigated by the New York attorney general’s office.
Attorney General Letitia James announced the investigation into the disturbing allegations by former students of Babylon High School in Suffolk County on Tuesday.
“Every student on Long Island and across New York deserves to feel safe and protected at school. The reports of sexual abuse of students at the hands of their teachers and coaches are troubling and must be investigated,” James said in an emailed statement. “My office is launching an investigation into the Babylon School District over these disturbing allegations. 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.”
The state investigation comes after multiple women who graduated from Babylon Junior-Senior High School said they were sexually groomed and victimized by teachers or coaches while they were students.
Brittany Rohl, 28, graduated Babylon Junior-Senior High School a decade ago and was the first to come forward with allegations in an open letter to the Board of Education that detailed years of alleged sexual abuse by her track coach.
Rohl sat down with PIX11’s Kala Rama on Tuesday to discuss the letter and what she described as “predators” being protected by the school system.
“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.
Rohl added that her goal in coming forward was to make sure current students and parents were aware of what happened to her.
“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,” she said.
The school district hired a former county prosecutor to investigate the allegations, which is separate from the attorney general’s probe, and placed five employees on paid leave last week, Newsday reported.
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.
However, Rhol said change needs to come from the top. Her message to the school superintendent: “Leave, we don’t need you. You are in our way.”
Meanwhile, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone applauded the attorney general for launching the investigation and said he is confident James will uncover the truth and demand accountability.
“I am in awe of the courageous individuals who have come forward, both former and current students, to tell their stories. Their allegations must be thoroughly investigated and I’m confident that will now happen with the Attorney General’s investigation,” he said. “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.”