Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine has launched a criminal investigation into the Washington Hebrew Congregation preschool and its administration after a lawsuit was filed by families alleging that eight students were sexually abused at the preschool, according to a WTOP report on Thursday.
Attorney general’s spokesperson confirmed the investigation to WTOP, while declining to comment further at this time.
A lawsuit was filed in D.C. Superior Court on Monday in which a group of parents accused preschool director Deborah “D.J.” Schneider Jensen of failing to protect the children, claiming that she was negligent amid “systemic, regular sexual abuse.” She allegedly ignored multiple reports about the odd behavior of an employee towards the children aged three and four, according to the plaintiffs, who also claimed that the school broke D.C. law by allowing the man to be alone with students.
“The families are encouraged by the attorney general’s criminal investigation,” Michael Dolce, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the case, said in an email statement Thursday.
Dolce explained that child sex predators cannot commit this offense in a school as long as the school ensures child safety. “We believe D.C. regulations mandate, under penalty of criminal prosecution, that school administrators ensure that two adults are present at all times with children to prevent a tragedy exactly like this,” he said.
The lawsuit also alleged that the teacher in question was frequently “allowed and encouraged to be alone with the children individually and in small groups.”
A spokesperson for the school delivered a statement this week, saying that the allegations were reported to D.C. Child Protective Service and Police on August 16, 2018, as soon as they found out about the issue. According to a police report dated August 17, 2018, D.C.’s Child and Family Services Agency had received an allegation of sexual abuse that took place between September 2, 2017, to August 15, 2018.
The employee is currently under investigation by the D.C. police. However, the police have not filed charges against the employee yet.