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Families Sue School for Alleged Abuse by Janitors

The families of three students at the Gregory Elementary School in Long Branch, New Jersey filed a lawsuit seeking $30 million in damages after the students were allegedly abused at the school in March 2012. The families sued the Long Branch Public Schools, the town’s Board of Education, and the Gregory Elementary School, alleging that they had downplayed the incident as a “joke gone bad” and that teachers had ignored the students’ complaints.

According to CBS New York, two janitors at the Gregory Elementary School allegedly tied up and gagged four students in a bathroom, then taunted them and took their pictures. The school district had suspended the janitors after the incident, and it did not renew their contracts at the end of the school year. The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office had investigated the incident, but it did not bring any charges against them. Nonetheless, the students still were traumatized by the event and suffered from severe emotional distress. The lawsuit asserted that the students suffer from:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Fear
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Lack of sleep
  • Depression

Attorney Joseph Tacopina, who represents the families, said, “They’re dealing with bouts of depression, they’re dealing with bouts of fear of school. Nightmares are prevalent. Some of these kids, when they think about the incident, they get nauseous.”

The lawsuit also claims that the “incredibly offensive” photos taken by the janitors never were recovered and that the families had been ostracized for purportedly making a “mountain out of a molehill.”

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