Officials unveil pilot program to fight sexual harassment, assault in Babylon schools

By Michael O'Keeffe

Suffolk County is teaming up with a Ronkonkoma crime victims advocacy group to launch a pilot program within the Babylon Union Free School District to help students and their families respond to sexual harassment and assault, County Executive Steve Bellone announced Thursday.

The pilot program was announced after school officials received complaints last year about sexual harassment and assault by former and current staff members. The program will be operated by the Crime Victims Center, which provides counseling and support to victims of violent crimes, and will be operational by the fall, Bellone said at a news conference in Hauppauge.

“As a parent, this work has always felt very personal to me,” Bellone said. “In this case, it is very personal. My three kids are part of the Babylon school district."

CVC Executive Director Laura Ahearn said her organization has been contacted by at least 20 victims of sexual assault and harassment since the allegations became public in November.

CVC will provide a dedicated crime victim advocate to Babylon schools and it will also implement prevention programs and help victims and their families report sexual assault and navigate through schools and the justice system when crimes do occur.

Attorney General Letitia James announced in November that her office will investigate allegations by former Babylon schools students. Suffolk police are also investigating the allegations.