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Former teacher speaks out after filing sexual abuse lawsuit against The Laradon School

Former teacher speaks out after filing sexual abuse lawsuit against The Laradon School
Former teacher speaks out after filing sexual abuse lawsuit against The Laradon School 03:21

It was Brooke Swenson's dream to teach special education students, but she says that dream was quickly crushed after she started working at Denver's The Laradon School.

"I was so excited and I feel like my dreams were just stomped on without a care in the world," said Swenson.

Swenson started working at the school in June 2021.

"There was a lot of physical aggression, but we were trained on that. We had about a week's worth of training," said Swenson.

The former teacher says the school told the staff it did not accept students with sexualized behaviors, nor was it providing the training to address that.


A year and a half into her role, she says a female student with a history of sexualized behaviors was put in her classroom.

"The whole thing was really hard," said Swenson.

An 11-page lawsuit complaint filed this month by Swenson and two classroom paraprofessionals details multiple instances of sexual abuse each says they experienced from two students at the school between June 2021 and August 2023.

"There was a lot of groping. I had my breasts groped. I was punched in the crotch and it left a bruise," said Swenson. "[The student] attempted to take my pants off. She attempted to rip my sweatshirt off, snapping my bra straps, and this went on for months until she was eventually discharged."

Swenson and the two other plaintiffs say they addressed these behaviors with leadership at The Laradon School on multiple occasions.

"We would immediately go to the director and the assistant director of the school and that was it. She pretty much would just say, 'oh, well, did you try giving space? Did you put her in a hold?'" said Swenson. "There was very little empathy or even understanding or being that I was being taken seriously that this even happened to me."

"This was not just one aberration, but this was a school that misled these new employees into taking these jobs and allowed this to happen for months before finally discharging the students," said attorney Dan Williams.

A spokesperson for the school told CBS New Colorado that the school is deeply committed to ensuring the safety of its community:

"We are deeply committed to ensuring the safety of our Laradon community, and we have clear policies and procedures in place to respond to incidents of physical or sexual aggression quickly and consistently. Despite our best efforts to reach a mutual resolution and underscore our commitment to safety, we are disappointed to learn three former staff members have filed a complaint against Laradon that greatly mischaracterizes our response to incidents that happened while they were employed with us. Out of respect for the privacy of those involved, and as this is an active lawsuit, we are unable to provide details other than confirming two students were discharged from The Laradon School in connection with these incidents. We greatly appreciate our passionate Laradon employees who serve over 400 high-need IDD adults and children daily with compassion and respect, and we remain committed to our vital mission."


When CBS News Colorado asked the school for a copy of those policies it says addressed sexual aggression, it declined to provide it and cited that this is an ongoing legal matter and it couldn't provide additional information at this time.

"I know that me and the two other girls are not the only ones that this happened to," said Swenson. "I wish that they were really honest, and I wish that they provided training for the students that they were intaking, especially when these are known behaviors."

It's why Swenson says this lawsuit is an important step in showcasing the need for schools like Laradon to improve its policies and prioritize the protection of its staff.

"Now, I am going to therapy weekly and I'm really trying to just figure out how to cope and manage triggers and symptoms from my time at where I did," said Swenson.

RELATED: 3 former employees of The Laradon School in Colorado file lawsuit

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