Woman allegedly raped as a child at Brooklyn Friends sues school

October 3, 2019 Noah Goldberg

A woman is suing Brooklyn Friends School over allegations that she was raped repeatedly by a janitor at the school as a third-grade student in the 1980s — and that the school failed to protect her from the abuse.

Amala Muhammed Redd, now 47, was 8 years old when a school janitor at the historic Downtown Brooklyn Quaker school began coming to her classes and telling her teachers she had a phone call or had to go downstairs, according to the lawsuit.

“On each occasion, I was permitted to leave with him, he would then direct me to sit in a sports closet on the top floor of our school,” Redd said through tears at a press conference announcing the lawsuit Thursday. “I was 8 years old. I would sit there in the dark and wait for him to arrive. Jesus Flores repeatedly raped when I was in the third grade. The insane nature of what happened to me was more immense than anyone could imagine.”

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Redd was abused for months before a teacher discovered Flores in the act of abusing her, according to the lawsuit. The school called Redd’s mother — as well as the police — but no charges were brought. Redd’s mother did not want to subject her daughter to a criminal investigation, according to Redd’s lawyers.

After that, Redd says, she never saw the janitor again.

Lawyers Irwin Zalkin and Dominique Penson argue that the school, which includes grades 3-12, should have done more to recognize and stop the alleged abuse.

Amala Redd as a child. Image courtesy of Amala Redd

“It is inexcusable that teachers would allow a janitor to remove a child from their class repeatedly and not do anything about that,” said Zalkin. “Schools, especially prestigious private schools like Brooklyn Friends, should be a safe environment for all students. The Friends School failed in its duty to protect Amala from this sexual predator and did nothing to educate and train their employees about protecting students from sexual abuse and harassment.”

Redd began to began self-harming by biting her lips until they bled as well as hitting her arms against the wall to injure herself so she would be excused from class and not have to see Flores, according to the lawsuit. “None of her teachers or school administration protected her or reacted to these childhood displays of distress,” according to a press release from Redd’s lawyers.

The suit was brought under the extended one-year statute of limitations provided by the Child Victims Act, signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in February. Beginning Aug. 14, individuals that had been time-barred from filing sexual abuse lawsuits against alleged perpetrators, dating back to childhood, got the opportunity to do so for up to a year.

The first day the law went into effect, 55 child abuse lawsuits were filed in Brooklyn.

“The safety of our students — past, present and future — is obviously our highest priority,” said Crissy Cáceres, the head of school at Brooklyn Friends. “These allegations are serious and are receiving thorough attention. I will continue to lead this community with care as we all work to better understand and process these alleged events of over 30 years ago.”

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