Asst. Principal In Charter School Sex Abuse Case Testifies
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South Florida Crime
MIAMI (CBSMiami) — In the case of child on child sex abuse, the assistant principal of a school where the alleged victim attended testified in court on Tuesday.
The assistant principal of Downtown Miami Charter School, Michael Lupton, in charge of security, testified he didn’t believe the alleged victim was in danger of sexual assault.
He admitted writing notes on efforts to protect the 7-year old boy, only after the lawsuit was filed against the school, and after the Department of Children and Families expressed concerns that the boys weren’t being kept apart at the school as the principal had promised.
Earlier on Tueday, a counselor and therapist testified that the alleged victim was “traumatized” and “believable.”
Latoya Johnson, an intake counselor for Kristi House, a contractor for DCF, disputed the charter school’s argument that the victim was “disturbed,” and made up the alleged abuse. Johnson said her evaluation of the boy revealed he was “not delusional,” and not unable to distinguish between “fantasy and reality.”
Scarlet Blandon, a Kristi House therapist, testified that the victim was believable. “His stories were always consistent,” she said. “He never changed his story.”
The therapist said the 7-year old’s description of the sex assaults were so detailed and graphic, they had to be true.
“A child would not know that unless they actually were exposed to that,” she said. She testified that the boy was seriously traumatized.
“He was extremely anxious, had nightmares regarding the abuse and had flashbacks,” the therapist told the jury.
The mother of the boy who was allegedly sexually abused while he was a student at the Downtown Miami Charter School told the court on Monday her child was overall “happy” until the first incident of alleged abuse took place.
The testimony is part of a $25 million lawsuit filed by the family against the charter school. The mother, whose name is not being revealed, said when her second-grade son got off the private bus one day, “he looked terrified.”
“(He) whispered to me that while he was on the bus, that someone made him do something nasty,” the alleged victim’s mother said in court. “I found out from (him) that he was made to perform oral sex on another student. (The other student) was basically telling him what to do, how to do it, and basically (the victim) did it out of fear of retaliation.”
The boy’s mother said she went to police and the school the next day to tell them what happened. She said her son had become “traumatized,” saying the situation was “embarrassing and that is a lot for a young child.”
The mom said her son twice attempted suicide.
“He just said, ‘In order to not have that burden on me, I would rather just kill myself and just be done with everything,” the mother said.
The principal, Rebecca Dinda, said she questioned all of the students in the van and none saw anything happen. She admitted the accused offender had a history of acting out sexually inappropriately, and had been suspended after one incident.
The alleged victim’s mother said Principal Dinda, “promised” her that she would keep the boys separated at school.
“The principal assured me that that’s what she would do,” the alleged victim’s mother told the court Monday.
The alleged victim said the older boy, a fifth grader, allegedly assaulted the 7-year old twice in a restroom at the charter school. The principal said last week the restroom where the 7-year old victim claims to have been sexually assaulted twice is “always” monitored by a staff member during the breakfast time when the boy said the assaults occurred.
She testified that the door to the restroom is always open and that fifth graders aren’t allowed to use the ground floor restroom.
“The person on that post would have told him to go upstairs,” Dinda said.
The alleged victim’s attorney asked Dinda last week why she didn’t remove “the sexual predator” from the school after the 7-year-old brought his original allegation.
“There was an allegation of a sexual assault. I had no proof,” Dinda replied. She noted, too that the State Attorney did not pursue a criminal case.
On cross-examination, the school’s attorney attempted to attack the mother’s credibility noting that she made no police report until the day after the alleged school bus incident.
The mother stood her ground saying when she called Miami Police the night of the incident, she was told she would have to see a special victims unit detective the next day and she did.
The defense made much of the boy having lost his little sister to accidental asphyxiation, and his father being in prison.
The mother countered that while the boy would say, “I miss my sister” and was unhappy his dad was gone, she insisted he did not develop severe emotional issues until after the incidents at school.
In opening statements, the defense told jurors the boy was traumatized long before the alleged school sex assaults and fabricated the stories of sex abuse, unable to distinguish “between reality and fantasy.”