A sexual abuse lawsuit has been filed against the Palm Beach School for Autism. The lawsuit, filed by the parents of a 13-year-old autistic boy, alleges that classroom assistant Christopher Breland sexually assaulted the student.
The lawsuit alleges that the school attempted to cover up the incident, which happened in November of last year. The school was evasive in reporting the abuse, the lawsuit says.
According to the lawsuit, on November 18, 2013, Breland sexually assaulted the victim, a severely nonverbal autistic boy.
Breland also sexually assaulted the boy on several occasions prior to this incident, the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit says that the school intimidated and threatened employees to keep mum on the alleged sexual abuse.
The Palm Beach School for Autism, located at 8480 Lantana Road in suburban Lake Worth, is a nonprofit charter school. It opened as a preschool in 1996. The students who attend the school are children with different levels of autism.
In December, CBS 12 reported that the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office had two open investigations involving a teaching assistant at the school.
Complaints about the school's executive director, Ann Eisenberg, emerged after the two cases were reported, with former and current employees accusing her of orchestrating covers-ups with threats and intimidation.
"A school for autistic children must not allow the children they serve to be sexually abused and exploited," said Jeff Herman, the attorney for the victim -- who remains unidentified. "According to our lawsuit, Palm Beach School for Autism exploits the fact that its students are nonverbal to aid in a culture of secrecy."
Hermand and the victim's family plan on holding a news conference Wednesday afternoon to address the case in more detail.
Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.