A Cooper City Islamic school and mosque have agreed to a multimillion-dollar legal settlement with three former students who allege a teacher sexually abused them over a decade ago.
A lawsuit filed in Broward County Circuit Court in 2014 alleged Nur-Ul-Islam Academy and mosque were negligent as a teacher, now 39, sexually abused at least three female students in their young teens from about 2004 to 2008. The women, who are now all in their mid- to late-20s, will benefit from the undisclosed amount.
The lawsuit claimed that, for at least one of the girls, the teacher allegedly would write in “code” on the blackboard in class to arrange times to meet up with her and also communicated with her through social media and late-night phone calls.
The women say the school knew of the teacher’s abuse and worked to cover it up. According to a psychologist working on the case, when the secret got out at the Islamic private school, the girls were mocked by students, teachers and the school president, who, according to the lawsuit, told one of the girls she was “equally responsible.” One girl’s family tied her up and abused her in their home, according to reports.
The lawsuit says the school’s president was approached by a parent of one of the girls who discovered a late-night phone call between their daughter and the teacher. He is alleged to acknowledge that the teacher confessed that he had improper contact with “numerous female students,” and solicited a letter of resignation from the teacher, according to the lawsuit.
According to a complaint taken by Pembroke Pines Police in 2014, a victim came forward to say she had sex with the teacher over 100 times when she was 12 to 14 years old. The teacher told her she was pretty and gave her a lot of attention, the report said, and the two spoke over the phone and by text.
The complaint said the pair met almost every weekend at either a west Broward Publix to have sex in the teacher’s car or at his home in Pembroke Pines. Similar to what was alleged in the lawsuit, the victim said they developed “codes” that the teacher wrote on the board in class to make arrangements to meet.
Police reported that the victim did not disclose the sexual relationship sooner because, “she is a member of a conservative Muslim community and it would have caused ‘shame and disgrace’ to her family.” The complaint also notes that police made contact with another former student who said that she also had a sexual relationship with the teacher when she was 15 to 16 years old.
Police made contact with the teacher and his attorney at a police station in July 2014, but the man denied any sexual relationships with either student, according to the report.
A warrant is still out for the man’s arrest, according to a Broward State Attorney’s Office spokeswoman. He was charged in 2014 with five counts of sexual battery by a person who is in a position of familial or custodial authority to a minor — which indicates that there may have been more than just three students affected — and one count of lewd and lascivious molestation. His whereabouts are not known.
The investigation is still active and charges are still pending.
Teachers are in a position of power of their students, and many look up to them as role models and authority figures. Teachers are around their students for a good majority of time each day, possibly more than their parents. When a teacher abuses his or her trust by engaging in inappropriate sexual conduct, it can cause psychological and emotional problems that may last a lifetime.
When school officials are aware that illegal behavior is happening and do nothing to stop it, both the staff/school district and the teacher can be held liable. Our Florida Sexual Abuse Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have access to highly respected investigators who are able to thoroughly dissect all aspects of a sex abuse scandal and get to the truth to identify if the school administration was aware that child abuse was taking place. Through a careful investigation, we can build a strong case against school districts, administrators and individual child abusers.