A camp counselor at Camp Live Oak in Fort Lauderdale was arrested in August for allegedly sexually abusing a child who attended the summer camp. 35-year-old Christopher Lawrence Falzone has been charged with lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor.
According to the arrest report, Falzone and the victim met at the summer camp in June while the victim was attending Camp Live Oak.
On August 3, the victim's mother contacted Fort Lauderdale police and told them she had heard her daughter talking on the phone with someone with a "grown man's voice." She then took her daughter's phone and saw that she was on a Facebook Messenger call with Falzone. She then asked her daughter if Falzone had ever touched her and the girl started crying and said "Yes."
Detectives interviewed the victim and she told them that Falzone had put his hands down her shorts roughly 15 times and touched her on top of her underwear. Authorities also say Falzone told the girl he loved her. She also told detectives that he touched her inappropriately at the camp, on field trips, and on a bus.
Falzone also worked as a substitute teacher at Sheridan Hills Elementary School. The Broward School District has been sued by the mother of another young girl who was allegedly sexually abused by Falzone while he was teaching at the school in Hollywood during the 2011-12 school year.
The lawsuit claims that the school district failed to protect the victim from Falzone. The lawsuit is seeking a minimum of $5 million in damages from Broward School District on behalf of the victim's mother.
Attorney Michael Haggard represents survivors of sexual assault in civil lawsuits. We've asked him to contribute some thoughts regarding the legal options available to summer camp sexual abuse survivors and their families:
It's vital to make sure that teachers, coaches, counselors, and other individuals who work with kids do not have a history of sexual misconduct. When one of these individuals in a position of trust and authority over children commits sexual abuse, we must both prosecute the offender and determine if the organization they worked for was negligent in a way that allowed the abuse to occur. In cases that involve camp counselors, there are situations where the camp itself failed to prevent the abuse.
For example, a summer camp might be considered negligent for sexual abuse if they failed to run a background check and hired an employee with a history of sexual misconduct allegations. In cases that involve negligence, the victims and their families may have the right to file a lawsuit.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of summer camp sexual abuse, we understand your family's struggles during this traumatic time. If you'd like to learn more about your family's legal options, consider contacting one of our experienced sexual abuse survivors attorneys for a free consultation.