EAST FLATBUSH, Brooklyn - The parent of an alleged sex assault victim who was one of at least five students allegedly abused inside a bathroom locker room at a Brooklyn school expressed her frustration Thursday in an exclusive 7 On Your Side Investigates interview.
"These are people's babies," said the mother, who did not want to be identified. "These are people's children."
The alleged incidents happened at It Takes A Village Academy (ITAVA) in the Tilden Educational Complex in East Flatbush, and police are investigating claims that the victims were groped by upperclassmen. One may have been sodomized.
"(My son) spoke to three people who were supposed to be caring for him in that building, and none of them did anything," the mother said. "So what message does that send to them? That they are unimportant? So they have been victimized by several people. Everybody in that school failed them."
An incident report obtained exclusively by 7 On Your Side Investigates indicates the school was aware of the accusations that five male students in the Individualized Education Program for students with special needs were touched inappropriately, but neither the NYPD nor the superintendent was initially contacted.
In a letter to parents, the New York City Department of Education confirmed principal Marina Vinitskaya has been removed pending the outcome of the investigation. Vinitskaya was accused of failing to follow reporting procedures.
Three students, ages 15 and 16, have also been suspended.
Sources at the Brooklyn District Attorney's office confirmed they are aware of the allegations, but they called it too soon to discuss whether charges would be filed.
It's not the first time the New York City Department of Education has been accused of failing to follow reporting procedures of potential crimes.
A 2015 audit by the New York State Comptroller accused schools of under-reporting and degrading potential crimes to the state Violent and Disruptive Incident Report, which tracks campus crimes and influences which schools are designated as "dangerous."
That audit found roughly one in four sex offenses and assaults had been under-reported.
A sampling school of 10 schools found an "additional 428 VADIR-qualifying incidents should have been reported."
For the 2015-2016 school year, the latest year for which information is available, the VADIR database indicates ITAVA reported 1 sex offense, 5 assaults with physical injury and 16 minor altercations.
Following these allegations, some parents at the school now question whether those figures should be higher.
"Who are you supposed to trust, if you go to them and they don't do their part?" one mother said. "Instead of trying to rectify the situation, they just covered it up."
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