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Arrests of cash transfer educators and trainers call for action to protect young people

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The chair of the Connecticut General Assembly Children’s Committee said state lawmakers and regulators are doing “enough” to prevent and respond to child abuse, following a series of recent allegations involving teachers and coaches.

State Representative Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire, is calling for longer prison terms and stricter supervision requirements for convicted abusers, extending the statute of limitations to prosecute commissioned reporters who fail to speak up and imposing other measures she said would allow school administrators and parents to better track signs of abuse.

“We can prevent by doing background checks, and I think that’s going to kill some, but it certainly won’t kill everything,” Linehan said. In addition to prevention by turning away people who want to harm children, we now need to consider prevention through education of children and parents. We need to make them more comfortable to talk.”

Linehan’s comments come on the heels of the arrest this month of two Connecticut teachers and the investigation of a third for alleged misconduct.

In addition, the Amateur Athletic Association basketball coach also faces state and federal charges for sexually assaulting several members of the Hartford Program, which is run by WNBA player Brea Holmes, according to court documents.

Federal authorities allege that Holmes’ boyfriend Danny Lawhorn, 30, He sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl In their home in Hartford. The FBI has since said that Two other victims identified And checks if there are others.

Lawyer John Schoenhorn said defense disputes “was Mr. Lawhorn ever ‘the coach of this woman or the term is sufficiently specific'”.

federal judge ruled last week That Lahorn should remain in prison even if he put up bail because he is a danger to flying.

Christian Stephenson, a Rockville High School teacher, also remains imprisoned after his October 18 arrest on formal charges. Child pornography and voyeurism. Judicial records show Stevenson has not contested the charges and is scheduled to appear Friday in the state Supreme Court in Toland.

Police said Stevenson surreptitiously took pictures of at least two high school students, as well as other child pornography allegedly found on his computer and iPad.

Days before Stevenson’s arrest, Montville School officials announced on October 15 that the high school football coach Tanner Grover has been put on leave Waiting for the outcome of the investigation of the State Police and the Department of Children and Families. No charges were brought against Grover and no arrests were made.

In a case involving two school districts, police arrested former Plainfield Central School teacher Craig McCoy on October 12 and charged him with low-risk and fourth-degree sexual assault in connection with a series of alleged incidents involving three students. At school, where McCoy taught eighth grade social studies.

Police said Mackey received nude pictures of the boys and supplied them with marijuana. At least two of the boys accused McCkey of being “helpful” and inappropriately touching them, according to several arrest warrants filed in the case.

These notes also state that McCoy was previously investigated and expelled from the North Stonington school district, where he worked as a coach at Wheeler High School. McCoy allegedly admitted buying condoms for four young students after a basketball game, according to arrest warrants. Judicial records show McCoy has not contested the charges and is due to appear December 1 in the state Supreme Court in Danielson.

Neither Mackie nor Tanner responded to requests for comment on Friday. Stephenson’s lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.

Eric Scoville, a spokesperson for the Connecticut Department of Education State Law The agency is required to conduct a criminal background check and search through the DCF’s Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect for all teaching certification applicants. Scoville said the names in the testimonial database are also managed through criminal records checks “on a periodic basis.”

Connecticut also has an “outstanding” record of . file use National Database of Disciplinary Procedures for Teachers It is maintained by the National Association of State Administrators for Teacher Education and Certification, according to the group’s executive director, Philip Rogers.

Rogers said that this database contains the names of 112,000 teachers who have been formally punished for misconduct.

While that much information is available for state regulators in Connecticut to check against any teacher applying for certification, Rogers said no school district in the state has a subscription to the database to check the backgrounds of less regulated jobs such as assistants, guardians or volunteers.

The effectiveness of even the most stringent background checks is limited, however, in cases involving licensed teachers with no history of disciplinary action. Rogers and Linehan said abusers can fall through loopholes when information is treated as “rumour” and school staff, including the abuse’s authorized reporters, fail to speak up.

“There’s someone who suspects something long before he gets caught, I guarantee it,” Rogers said.

Linehan said that in addition to extending the state’s statute of limitations by a year to prosecute an authorized reporter’s failure to report abuse or neglect, she hopes to introduce a bill at the next legislative session requiring the Department of Public Health to include questions in A questionnaire for students distributed to random schools This will help officials investigate the extent of abuse.

Similar legislation Linehan introduced it during the 2021 legislative session and passed the House of Representatives, but it did not receive a vote in the Senate.

The chair of the Legislature’s Education Committee, Senator Douglas McCrory, D-Hartford, and Representative Robert Sanchez, D-New Britain, were not reached for comment last week, according to their press aides.

During the hearing, Linehan and her fellow lawmakers passed legislation Require youth camps and some nonprofits that sponsor youth athletic programs to conduct background checks on coaches, as well as Anti-grooming bill. However, she said, more could be done to strengthen laws around abuse investigations and information that school officials should share with each other.

“These cases definitely lack follow-up.” Linehan said. “The problem is that all too often, someone leaves when there is talk of a problem and the school district is not necessarily investigating. If that is the case, there is no record of it, and that teacher can go to teach anywhere.”

Scoville said school officials should notify the state board of education if they learn that a licensed teacher has been convicted of a crime. If a certified teacher is fired or resigns after an abuse report, the supervisor must notify the state education commissioner within 72 hours.

In the case of McCoy, the teacher and coach who was accused of misconduct in two school districts prior to his arrest this month, both supervisors said they took appropriate action after learning of the allegations.

said Peter Nero, the supervisor at North Stonington where Mackey worked as a basketball coach today’s newspaper The school district had not received any complaints about McCoy until the January indictment.

Nero said McCoy was fired after a brief prosecution investigation, reported his office to the DCF and continued to cooperate with “the police, DCF and the state Department of Education.”

At the time of this investigation, Mackey was also placed on leave from his teaching job at Plainfield, according to a statement from Superintendent Paul M. Brenton. No charges were brought in the previous case, and Brenton said McCoy was reinstated in February until a second police investigation began in May. McCoy was fired for a second time in May, at which time he resigned.

Scoville also defended the Department of Education’s actions on the matter.

“The department has been notified of the actions in accordance with the law, the investigation has been completed, and all legal requirements have been met,” Scoville said in an email. “This teacher no longer has an active teacher certification from Connecticut.”

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