Preparatory School Student Sexually Assaulted By Teacher/Coach
Two teachers were arrested in October 2021 for their involvement and knowledge of an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student at Rutgers Preparatory School located at 1345 Easton Ave, Somerset, NJ 08873.
30-year-old history teacher and coach Matthew Rennie plead guilty to charges of sexual assault after engaging in sexual misconduct with a student. Fellow teacher, Ranait Griff, has also been charged with endangering the welfare of a child for failing to report her knowledge of the crime.
Did Ignored Grooming Lead to Sexual Assault?
Rennie admitted to having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student at the prep school that began in 2019. The sophomore got closer to the teacher after confiding about issues with another coach at the school. It was not uncommon in the school for staff and students to communicate directly on personal phones, so the two began texting and calling. It was also not unusual for teachers to eat breakfast with other students in their class, so no one suspected when the teacher began to eat with the victim and her friends during her first-period class.
However, Griff learned of the relationship in March, around the same time Rennie began expressing his intense feelings for the student. Rather than report the misconduct, the teacher applauded the incident by telling the student she thought the two were “adorable.” Griff even asked the student when she thought the relationship would get “physical” and if she could handle it.
In April 2021, the two became physical as they kissed on campus. By that summer, they were having sexual encounters at Rennie’s home and in his car. After school began again, the two even had sex twice on campus in his classroom in September.
Police arrested Rennie after the victim’s parents became aware of the relationship in October. Soon after, Griff was arrested for neglecting to report the incident. The victim and her parents have filed a suit against both teachers and the school for their alleged failure to prevent the abuse.
What Rights Do Parents of School Sex Abuse Students Have?
Legal Examiner Laurence Banville recently sat down with school sex abuse attorney Brian Kent to discuss the legal rights available for parents and guardians of victims.
LB – What Rights Do Parents of School Sex Abuse Students Have in NJ?
BK – Parents of school sex abuse students have a number of rights under the law. In particular, they may be able to seek damages in a civil lawsuit against the school, the abuser, and other responsible parties. Additionally, they may be able to take action to ensure that the school implements policies and procedures to better protect students from future abuse.
LB – How can a school prevent grooming and sexual abuse between staff and students?
BK – Schools should take a multi-pronged approach to preventing grooming and sexual abuse between staff and students. First, schools should create a culture of safety and respect, emphasizing that all staff and students are expected to treat each other with respect and dignity. It is important that school districts have clearly defined policies and procedures regarding acceptable behavior and consequences for violations. Schools should have regular staff training on recognizing, reporting, and responding to signs of grooming and sexual abuse. Finally, schools should establish a safe reporting system that enables students and staff to confidentially report concerns to school administrators or outside agencies. These measures can help create a safe environment and help protect students from grooming and sexual abuse.
LB – Can parents seek compensation if their child has been a victim of sexual abuse at a prep school?
BK – Civil lawsuits can also be used to hold the school accountable for any negligence that allowed the abuse to happen in the first place. This is a way to seek compensation for any physical, emotional, or psychological trauma experienced as a result of the abuse. Parents should be aware that the statutes of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit may be different in each state. Additionally, they should be aware that filing a civil lawsuit can be complex and lengthy and that they may need to consult with an experienced attorney to properly protect their rights.
Justice for Victims of School Sexual Assault
Parents of school sex abuse victims should explore their legal options by consulting with a sex abuse lawyer. These rights are intended to help protect their child from any further harm and ensure that the responsible parties are held accountable. Our team at Abuse Guardians can match victims and their families with a legal team that can fight for their rights. Contact us to learn more.
Abuse Guardian for Pennsylvania and New Jersey