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AP: Sexual Misconduct Plagues US Schools

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The findings draw obvious comparisons to sex abuse scandals in other institutions, among them the Roman Catholic Church. A review by America's Catholic bishops found that about 4,400 of 110,000 priests were accused of molesting minors from 1950 through 2002.

Clergy abuse is part of the national consciousness after a string of highly publicized cases. But until now, there's been little sense of the extent of educator abuse.

Beyond the horror of individual crimes, the larger shame is that the institutions that govern education have only sporadically addressed a problem that's been apparent for years.

"From my own experience _ this could get me in trouble _ I think every single school district in the nation has at least one perpetrator. At least one," says Mary Jo McGrath, a California lawyer who has spent 30 years investigating abuse and misconduct in schools. "It doesn't matter if it's urban or rural or suburban."

One report mandated by Congress estimated that as many as 4.5 million students, out of roughly 50 million in American schools, are subject to sexual misconduct by an employee of a school sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade. That figure includes verbal harassment that's sexual in nature.

Jennah Bramow, one of Lindsey's accusers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, wonders why there isn't more outrage.

"You're supposed to be able to send your kids to school knowing that they're going to be safe," says Bramow, now 20. While other victims accepted settlement deals and signed confidentiality agreements, she sued her city's schools for failing to protect her and others from Lindsey _ and won. Only then was Lindsey's teaching license finally revoked.

As an 8-year-old elementary-school student, Bramow told how Lindsey forced her hand on what she called his "pee-pee."

"How did you know it was his pee-pee?" an interviewer at St. Luke's Child Protection Center in Cedar Rapids asked Jennah in a videotape, taken in 1995.

"'Cause I felt something?" said Jennah, then a fidgety girl with long, dark hair.

"How did it feel?" the investigator asked.

"Bumpy," Jennah replied. She drew a picture that showed how Lindsey made her touch him on the zipper area of his pants.


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© 2007 The Associated Press

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