A Florida school district is under fire this week after court filings seem to show it blaming four third-grade girls for their molestation at the hands of a teacher 12 years ago, People reports. In court documents, lawyers for the school district wrote that the four girls "were old enough to appreciate the consequences of their own actions and to be held accountable for them … Through their actions and/or omissions, plaintiffs conducted themselves in a careless and negligent manner … and such negligence was a contributing and/or sole proximate cause of their injuries and damages.” The news comes as the school district is expected to approve a $3.6 million settlement with the four women at a meeting this week.
The women say their teacher Blake Sinrod groped them and forced them to touch him in 2005, when they were around 9. In 2006 Sinrod pleaded guilty to child abuse charges involving two of the girls. After the girls' parents discovered Sinrod had been accused of crimes before, they sued the Palm Beach School District for negligence in 2006. The district's defense was written by Hollywood law firm Conroy Simberg, and a lawyer with the firm called it "comparative negligence," a common defense use to raise issues that might lower the amount of damages the school district should pay, the Sun-Sentinel reports. “We have never blamed these girls or given the appearance of holding the girls responsible for what their teacher did," Simberg says. (Read more Florida stories.)