On Wednesday, November 28, the former Cohasset middle school teacher accused of sexually assaulting two students pleaded not guilty to five additional charges of indecent assault. 57-year-old Jeffrey Knight is now facing five more charges of indecent assault and battery on a child in connection with allegations made by a second former student.
The Cohasset Police conducted an investigation into the allegations made by the second victim. According to court documents, one victim told police that Knight "was aroused and pressing up against her" and that "He would also look down her shirt and brush by her rear-end and breasts with his hand." Another girl says that Knight told her that "Her legs look really good" when she was wearing leggings.
Knight was originally charged with two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and two counts of indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or over when he was arraigned in September.
According to Boston 25 News, documents from the state's Department of Children and Families show that the state recently discovered claims of sexual abuse committed by Knight and neglect by a school official in relation to these allegations.
The police say that the first alleged victim, a 13-year-old student, came forward and told school officials about sexual misconduct by Knight in February. However, the police were not notified until May when a school resource officer overhead conversation about the matter and contacted the police department.
Knight will return to court on January 30.
Kim Dougherty works as a civil attorney representing sexual assault survivors in lawsuits. We've asked her to contribute some information on school liability when a staff member sexually abuses students:
For school districts, making sure students are safe is just as important as providing them with a quality education. In any field that involves working with children, it's crucial to make sure that employees and volunteers are honorable people who can be trusted with kids. But unfortunately, sexual predators are often found in these fields because of their regular access to young people and their positions as authority figures.
When a school employee is accused of sexually abusing students, we must make sure that the victims get the help they need and that the employee is investigated and prosecuted. But we also must ask if the school did all that they could to prevent the abuse from occurring. Some cases of school employee sexual abuse are the result of negligence on the part of the school, such as failing to report complaints of sexual misconduct to law enforcement in a timely manner. In cases involving negligence, the victims and their families may have the right to file a lawsuit.
If you or someone you love has been sexually abused by a school employee, consider speaking with an experienced sexual assault survivors lawyers to better understand your legal options.