Organizations that serve children have no choice but to pay attention to “red flags” that suggest than an adult is sexually abusing a child. Nevertheless, we continue to learn about organizations that have every reason to believe that an adult is harming a child, but does nothing more than ask the adult to stop or issue a warning to the adult. This has to stop. The price it just too high. As a Florida child sex abuse attorney, I was very disappointed to read a story on the WFTV website about a former Apopka Elementary School teacher who was recently arrested for allegedly inappropriately touching one of his former students. Once the police received the report from this recent victim, the began investigating the teacher’s personnel file. The file showed that the teacher had been accused in the past of having students sit in his lap in class, and for being very “touchy” with the children in his class. Apparently, the teacher was warned, but nothing more. We don’t know the timing of the abuse of the victim that came forward recently, but if it was following the “red flags” the school received, then this situation represents a horrible failure on the part of Apopka Elementary School. It seems pretty clear that the school should have terminated this teacher as soon as the lap-sitting and touching allegations were substantiated. As I wrote earlier, the stakes are too high to do otherwise. I certainly hope the victim who had the courage to report this accused molester to police is receiving the mental health and emotional care and therapy he needs. If you have any questions regarding allegations of any adult committing an act of child sex abuse, call Winter Park attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407-254-4901 or visit http://cullen-hemphill.com. Consultations are always free and without...Read More »
I came across a news story that I thought would be worthy of sharing. Central Florida News 13 was reporting about new sex abuse charges leveled against a former classroom teacher, Anthony Silva. Mr. Silva used to be a teacher at Renaissance Charter School in Orange County, until one of his former co-workers called 911 to report that Mr. Silva was inappropriately touching students and simulating sex with them. He was originally charged, and put in jail. Now, Mr. Silva faces new charges of lewd and lascivious molestation, as well as false imprisonment of a child. Apparently, the false imprisonment charges stem from some of Mr. Silva’s activities with students inside his own classroom. Of course, Mr. Silva is innocent in the eyes of the law, until he is proven to be guilty. However, it is not often that these types of cases are instigated by co-workers. Typically, child abusers are more careful and secretive about their activities with young children. If sexually abusive acts did occur on school grounds, then the Renaissance Charter School may face civil liability for money damages in favor of the injured students. Institutions like schools owe children a duty to supervise the adults the school place in front of the children every day. Schools should be allowing environments to exist where abuse can occur on the school’s campus. We were recently able to achieve a significant recovery for a client who was sexually abused by his Sunday School teacher in the church offices, during a Sunday church service. The church really had no explanation for how that could happen. If you have any questions regarding sexual abuse allegations involving a school or church, call Florida child sexual abuse attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at...Read More »
Volusia Teacher, Coach, Youth Pastor Found With 8,000 Child Porn Images. Child Sex Abuse Victims Likely.
I have to admit that I was rather astonished to read this article on the WESH.com website regarding a South Daytona teacher who has been accused of possessing thousands of child pornography images, and likely some other related charges. My astonishment is two-fold. First, it is always distressing as a citizen of Central Florida to realize that there are people — and especially a teacher — like this, in our community. Second, I was astonished at this story as a Florida child sexual abuse attorney because of some of the things that were seemingly known or knowable regarding the perpetrator here. 42-year-old Matthew Grazziani was arrested in his home in Volusia County last week. FBI investigators found approximately 8,000 images of child pornography on his computer. Apparently the FBI had become interested in Mr. Grazziani when he started sending child pornography images across the Internet to other people. Obviously, Mr. Grazziani has not been found guilty of anything at this time, he has only been accused. 8,000 pornographic images is bad enough, but Mr. Grazziani’s computer also allegedly contained a folder entitled “personally known” that contained 41 subfolders with boys names on them. Investigators also allegedly found at least one image of Mr. Grazziani, himself, engaged in a sex act with a young boy. Based upon my experience handling these kinds of cases, it would be shocking to me if there were not multiple child sexual abuse victims associated with Mr. Grazziani if these reports of the investigation are true. Behavior like that seems similar to that of other sexual predators. They very rarely have single victims. It should be noted that Mr. Grazziani occupies positions often sought-after by pedophiles. At the time of his arrest he was serving as a middle school teacher at Warner Christian Academy in South Daytona, as well all serving as a coach and director of the summer camp program at the school. In addition, Mr. Grazziani served as a youth pastor at the Faith Community Church in Edgewater. Again, given Mr. Grazziani’s status in the community, if the investigation is accurate, it would not surprise if me at all if there were sexual abuse victims both at the middle school and the church. As a child sexual abuse lawyer, I was most shocked by information in the story that Edgewater police are now looking into a closed investigation that they opened 10 years ago where Mr. Grazziani was accused of inappropriately touching a child. It is beyond me how someone who was accused of such a crime, even if he was not formally criminally charged, should be placed by an organization in a trusted position like teacher, coach, camp counselor, and youth minister. While Mr. Grazziani certainly could have (and probably did) make a good impression during his interviews, surely any of these organizations could have found candidates who were similarly qualified, but...Read More »