2011-03-10 / News

$1,000,000 Settlement Against School District

The Northfield News

A one million dollar settlement has been reached in a case where the Washington South Supervisory Union and the Roxbury School District will be paying the money to Justin Langlois, 17, of Roxbury who was sexually abused by his uncle back in 2003 when he was 10 or 11.

The school became involved because the boy told his teacher about the on-going abuse and the teacher allegedly did nothing about it and did not report it to authorities.

According to court records, Langlois’ stepmother told Roxbury teacher John LaRock in 2003 that the boy told her that his uncle was molesting him. The teacher responded by telling the stepmother not to report the abuse to the state but to “deal with it within her family,” according to pleadings filed in court.

In 2006, the boy’s uncle, Casey Langlois, pleaded guilty to two charges of aggravated sexual assault and was sentenced to 10 to 30 years in the state prison and is serving his time in Kentucky.

The settlement came after a jury trial in the case had already commenced and Justin was allowed to address the jurors after the case was settled in what lawyers said was extremely unusual.

The trial had gone on for three days before the settlement came.

Under Vermont law, teachers, principals, doctors and others are required to report suspicions of child sexual abuse to state authorities. In this case, the evidence showed that the boy had told his teacher about the abuse but the teacher allegedly said that the family should take care of such matters. Apparently, at the time, the school district had not promulgated and informed its teachers in the district about the law and what they should do in event such an instance should arise.

In 2009, Justin filed claims of negligence against Washington South Supervisory Union and the Roxbury School District.

The pleadings asserted that a principal, teacher and counselor at Roxbury Village School suspected in 2003 that Justin was being sexually abused but did not report it for more than a year.

During that year, the boy continued to be sexually assaulted by his uncle who allegedly used a dog cage, a dog collar and chains on his nephew to carry out his sexual fantasies.

During his testimony in the case, the boy took the stand and testified about the abuse, identifying photos of the mobile homes in Roxbury where he was abused and the implements his uncle used to assault him.

The boy has lived in the custody of the Vermont Department for Children & Families since 2005 and lives with foster parents.

Soon after he was put in the custody of the state, the boy described how he developed behavioral problems and had to live in a residential care facility but has since turned his life around.

Currently, he resides in Coventry, he is an honor student and wants to go to college.

He now lives there with loving foster parents, he said, and his behavior is under control. He is a high-honor student and plans to go to college, he said.

Attorney Kelly Green, plaintiff’s counsel asked why Justin wanted to testify and tell his difficult story to which the boy replied that he wanted to point out that the law requires teachers to report their suspicions. He said one phone call “can save a child from abuse.”

He also said that he wanted to have closure and show that when bad things happen to people it doesn’t mean he’s a bad person.

The jury applauded him when he finished his talk after the settlement, he shook hands with court officers, as well as Judge Geoffrey Crawford who thanked the boy for speaking to the jury.

The $1 million settlement will be paid entirely by AIG and Peerless insurance companies that covered Roxbury School District and Washington South at the time.

Michele Fagan, current superintendent of schools said in a statement that “none of the Defendants was found liable to Justin and the settlement was reached to put an end to a disputed claim and allow Justin to move forward with his life. We wish him every success.” She said that the settlement was acceptable to all defendants and Justin’s appointed guardian and were approved by the court.

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And what happened to the

And what happened to the teacher who did nothing? Is he still teaching?

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