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Long Island News

Suffolk County plans to bring in a victim advocate at Babylon high school after alleged sexual abuse

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Babylon Junior-Senior High School

Suffolk County has launched a pilot program to prevent sexual assault at Babylon schools and help survivors report abuse. The Crime Victims Center in Ronkonkoma will run the program, which will assign a dedicated professional victim advocate to each school in the district and train student ambassadors to recognize abuse and raise awareness.

“Every institution can and must create an environment within itself that can prevent sexual abuse,” Laura Ahern, executive director of the Crime Victims Center, said at a news conference to announce the program. “You can do it through education and training… and strengthening victim-centric reporting processes and procedures that promote accountability and transparency.”

The on-site advocate can help survivors report their abuse and navigate the justice system.

“School districts are not immune to having individuals who may use their positions to prey on children,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, noting that his own children attend Babylon schools.

The New York State Attorney General and Suffolk County police are investigating claims of sexual harassment and abuse at Babylon high school. The district came under fire last year when multiple students accused staff members of sexual abuse and claimed the administration covered it up. Former teacher Timothy Harrison now faces rape charges.

In a statement, advocates with Babylon Alumni and Allies for Change said they’re “cautiously optimistic” about the pilot program and hope the school district continues to include the survivors themselves as they revamp their prevention and response protocols.