Social worker says Chapel Hill elementary school ignored sexual abuse of first graders

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Most of the allegations laid out in the civil lawsuit against Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools are disturbingly cringe-worthy.

One particular quote from the woman who blew the whistle on the case stands out: "I was shocked and dismayed that so many people in an administrative position knew about the abuse and did little to respond."

It begins in 2012 at Estes Hill Elementary School in Chapel Hill. Talya Mazor had just been hired as the school's new clinical social worker when she soon took notice of the aggressive and agitated behavior of at least three of the boys in her high-needs program.

To Mazor, it was more than bad behavior. In her affidavit, she said, "Many of them displayed what appeared to be symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder."

Suspecting the boys were being sexually abused Mazor built trust. And by spring 2013 she says, "One boy confided in me that he had been assaulted. He detailed ongoing sexual abuse by two older students at the school."

The allegations are laid out in a 14-page civil lawsuit filed against the school district and three former staffers at Estes Hill, including a former principal.

The boys told the therapist that starting in first grade they had been sexually assaulted multiple times at school by two older students. They described inappropriate genital touching in the school cafeteria, bathrooms, hallways, the playground and the school bus as well.

When Mazor asked questions she says it went nowhere. Writing, "the boy's previous teacher told the social worker that the allegations 'had been handled'" But Mazor says she "searched their thick files and found no indication or documentation."
She says higher-ups in the district office assured her that the boys' claims had been investigated, that they had received individual counseling, and their parents had been notified.

But when Mazor went to the families, she said: "the boys' grandmother and guardian... were both surprised and upset upon hearing the reports of abuse, as it was their first time hearing of it."

The plaintiffs, in this case, are identified only as "Mother Doe" and "John Doe".

In statement, the family's attorney Robby Jessup told ABC11, "We look forward to helping our clients understand what happened. Our lawsuit and the sworn affidavit speak for themselves. We have no further comment at this time."

There may be three victims in this case. Jessup says he represents at least two of them.

A spokesperson for Chapel-Hill Carrboro City Schools declined to comment on open litigation.

But the district did confirm all three staffers named in the suit are no longer with the district. Two have retired and one accepted a new position at the state Department of Instruction.
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