UPDATE: More alleged abuse victims have come forward in the case against former Nur-Ul-Islam Academy teacher Tariq Ahmad.
New details are shaking out over the alleged off-limits activities of one Broward private school teacher and his students. Last week, Pembroke Pines Police announced they were looking for Tariq Ahmad, a teacher and head of school at the Nur-Ul-Islam Academy in Cooper City. The 35-year-old is facing sex-crimes-related charges stemming from alleged abusive relationships with students in the late 2000s. Reports of the police search were followed by news of a lawsuit claiming a cover-up at the school.
Right now, a manhunt is on for Ahmad. But what hasn't been reported until now is that before the teacher's tenure at Nur-Ul-Islam Academy, Ahmad worked for the Broward County Public School District.
Nur-Ul-Islam Academy is a kindergarten-through-12-grade college prep school with around 335 students. The facility boasts a "complete education that emphasizes excellence in academics and Islamic morals and values," according to its website.
On his own LinkedIn page, Ahmad (some news reports and court documents have spelled the name "Ahmed," although it's spelled "Ahmad" on the site) claims he's worked at the school since August 2006. He lists his current job title as "head of school." Before that, Ahmad says he worked for the Broward County Public Schools.
On Tuesday, the district confirmed to New Times that Ahmad worked in the schools between August 2001 and November 2005 as both a substitute teacher and a temporary teacher assistant. Ahmad worked at various locations, although the district couldn't provide specifics at this time. His reason for leaving the district's employ was "relocation." The school also couldn't tell us at this time whether Ahmad had any disciplinary problems while working for the district.
The timing plays into the allegations that follow. According to a lawsuit filed last Friday by two alleged victims, in August 2005, Ahmad was hired by Nur-Ul-Islam Academy. "[A]fter his hiring, but before the sexual abuse of the plaintiffs occurred," the suit states, "[Nur-Ul-Islam Academy] became aware that Tariq Ahmed was credibly implicated by a family member of his in the sexual abuse of a child."
But the school "kept the information it had to itself," the lawsuit says, "not alerting any student, parent or legal authority of what it had been told."
In early 2007, the suit alleges Ahmad developed a relationship with a 15-year-old girl, "forcing her into a sexual relationship, abusing her on multiple occasions, up to and including sexual intercourse." In fall 2007, Ahmad began a relationship with another student, this time one in his class; the teacher developed a code to write on the board to "arrange times to meet her outside of school and contact her through social media Internet sites," the suit alleges.
Then in 2008, the parent of the second girl confront the school's president about late-night phone calls flowing between his child and her teacher. The lawsuit claims the school head later told the parent Ahmad "had confessed to... improper contact with female students, claimed to be remorseful... and had signed a letter of resignation that was placed in his personnel file to be used against him to justify his firing if he was caught again engaging in an improper relationship with another student."
But that's where it stopped. No calls to law enforcement, no calls to the abuse hotline, the victims claim. "Child sex abuse can be avoided, if institutions react immediately," the students' attorney, Michael Dolce, tells New Times. "We found out this school had prior information."
Instead, Dolce says the school tried to blame one of the girls for the relationship. The shame of the whole experience would land both in therapy for years, and the second girl even had to go through reconstructive plastic surgery "for damage done to her sexual organs by" her former teacher.
Last week, when news of the charges and lawsuit broke, the school released the following statement. From Local 10:
"These allegations relate to alleged acts of the teacher six to eight years ago, which did not occur on the school's premise, concerning at least one former student of the Academy. Upon learning of these allegations, the Academy immediately suspended the teacher's employment, barred him from any further contact with Academy students, and has since terminated his employment with the Academy."
As we said, Ahmad remains at large now. Attorneys for the victims have set up a website -- teacherhunt.org -- to help spread the word. Already, by Tuesday night, a third alleged victim has come forward.
The question remains if there are other victims. "All I can do is rely on statistics," the girls' attorney, Dolce, says. "This type of predator, who seeks out his prey, that kind of predator can abuse an average of 109 children if the law doesn't stop them."