Cooper City school failed to protect students from sexual abuse, lawsuit says

Teacher Christoper Falzone accused of molesting third-grader several times

COOPER CITY, Fla. – The family of girl who said she was sexually abused by her third-grade teacher is suing Renaissance Charter School of Cooper City, saying the school knew the teacher had been previously accused of molesting children.

Christopher Falzone, 35, was arrested last week after police said Falzone repeatedly molested a girl at a summer camp in Fort Lauderdale in June.

In 2013, Hollywood police investigated several claims that Falzone, then a substitute teacher at Sheridan Hills Elementary School, had groped students. Ultimately, only one of the four possible victims agreed to press charges. Prosecutors did not pursue the case because they said they lacked the necessary evidence.

The lawsuit claims that the mother of the third-grader warned Jacob Goldberg, the principal of Renaissance Charter School, about Falzone, calling him a danger to the girls in the classroom. The mother also told Goldberg that she saw Falzone inappropriately touching her daughter and other students, but she said Goldberg did not take action.

"One more example of a school administrator not protecting students from sexual abuse by a teacher. The alleged failure to investigate and remove Falzone after the mother’s warnings are disgraceful," said Jeff Herman, the victim's attorney.

The lawsuit said the girl was 8 and 9 years old when the abuse occurred. According to the lawsuit, Falzone touched the girl's buttocks, rubbed her back and placed his hand underneath her underwear. The girl's account is similar to 2013 allegations by the students at Sheridan Elementary School.

"One of the things Falzone would do is he would have a video time, where he would turn the lights off and he would pick girls that he would bring up and put them next to him in a chair," Herman said Thursday at a news conference. "And he would call these girls up one at a time next to him and then he would put his hand on them. He would rub their buttocks. he would stick his hand under their skorts or skirts."

Other parents said they are also concerned about the allegations against Falzone.

"I have heard nothing. I have heard nothing," Lazaro Hernandez said. "Right now, he is hiding in there. He doesn't want to speak to us. Anytime anyone asks him anything about the allegation, he refuses to speak about it."

Falzone has been placed on leave by the Renaissance Charter School, pending the outcome of his legal case.