Lawsuit accuses Connecticut school of failing to prevent sex abuse of student by staff member


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NEW HAVEN, Connecticut — A Connecticut school was negligent in failing to prevent a female staff member from sexually abusing a 16-year-old emotionally disturbed male student, a lawsuit alleged Wednesday.

The lawsuit was filed in Stamford Superior Court on behalf of a legal representative for the teenager, now 19 and a former student of Devereux Glenholme School, a therapeutic boarding school in Washington, Connecticut, where Brittany Larson was also a staff member.

Larson, who no longer works for the school, was sentenced last year to nine months in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree sexual assault under the Alford doctrine in which a defendant doesn't agree with the allegations but concedes the state has enough evidence to convict.

The lawsuit alleges the school and the Devereux Foundation, which runs a national network of schools and treatment facilities including Glenholme, failed to take reasonable steps to supervise its staff and the student. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, saying the student suffered serious emotional and psychological injuries as a result.

The school had no immediate comment Wednesday. Messages left with the foundation and with an attorney for Larson also were not immediately returned.

The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly.

Attorney Paul Slager, who filed the lawsuit, said it is "an accurate summary of the sad events that led to this young man's injuries." Slager declined further comment.

The student and his family sought out Glenholme because he suffered from emotional disturbance and the school offered a therapeutic educational setting with 24-hour supervision, according to the lawsuit. The school was aware of the teen's disabilities and need for strict supervision, the suit says.

When he was 15, the student met Larson, who was assigned to provide one-on-one supervision, and he exchanged numerous inappropriate computer messages with her using a school computer, the suit says. The exchange should have alerted the school to an inappropriate sexual relationship between the boy and Larson, who was 27 at the time, the lawsuit says.

Eventually, the complaint alleges, Larson and the teenager had sexual contact, followed by numerous sexual encounters in different places on the Glenholme School campus over several months in 2011. Those encounters constituted sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or sexual assault, the lawsuit says.

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