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Lawsuit alleges autistic students sexually assaulted at Seagull Academy for Independent Living

Woman 1: A mother is now taking legal action after she says her two autistic daughters were sexually assaulted while at school. That mother is telling her story to us. Randy Gyllenhaal is live in the newsroom with the details. Randy?

Randy: Yeah, that mother was willing to go on camera, but she asked we don’t reveal her name so as to protect the identities of her children. Last school year, her two autistic daughters were enrolled at a special needs charter school. Within months, the family says both of the girls were sexually abused by older classmates. Inside the Seagull Academy, special needs students learn in the safety of a supervised classroom. That’s why this Palm Beach County mother enrolled her two autistic daughters. Things were going great until they came home one day crying.

Woman 2: I was very, very upset.

Randy: Mom claims her daughters were sexually abused by at least three other students multiple times, at least one time on a field trip.

Woman 2: And when she told me, I called 911. The school didn’t tell me anything. My daughter told me.

Randy: According to a lawsuit filed today, the girls were repeatedly assaulted by older special needs students, all of them adults.

Man 1: And they put adult men in their 20s, who are disabled, with my clients, who are 13- and 14-year-old autistic girls. They allowed those populations to mix, which is a huge mistake.

Randy: The family’s lawyer claims the school should have done more to protect the young girls.

Man 1: And one of the things we’re alleging in this lawsuit is that they weren’t correctly supervised and that’s what led to these girls being raped.

Randy: The charter school, with students ranging from 12 to 22, said this is the first they’ve learned of the lawsuit, but deny any wrongdoing.

Woman 3: Everybody needs to remember these are allegations. Any type of alleged allegations of this type are immediately reported to authorities and investigated.

Woman 2: She’s not doing too good at all. She has nightmares. You know, she’s always been happy, always kept that smile and loved to hug other people and it’s just not there anymore.

Randy: And those two girls are now enrolled in another public school. Seagull Academy tells us they are investigating these allegations and they said they have many policies in place to supervise and report any of these kinds of allegations to authorities. We’re live tonight, Randy Gyllenhaal, WPBF 25 News.