Friday, November 13, 2009

Atlantic City Board of Ed pays $175,000 in alleged child molestation case

On October 19, 2009, a twelve-year old girl and her mother, accepted $175,000 in settlement of a lawsuit arising out of the girl's claim that she had been sexually molested by a school janitor.

In her suit, which was filed on August 21, 2008, the girl alleged that on October 24, 2003, when she was six years old and a first grade student at the Chelsea Heights School, school janitor Reinaldo Rodriguez "sexually molested her by rubbing her inner thighs while she was seated in the school cafeteria."

The lawsuit and settlement agreement are on-line here. The girl and her mother were represented by Michael J. Mackler of Atlantic City.

None of the girl's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement expressly states that the $175,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by the Atlantic City Board or any of its officers. All that is known for sure is that the Atlantic City Board, and perhaps its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that they would rather pay the girl and her lawyer $175,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the Atlantic City Board's decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the Atlantic City Board wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.