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Jurors Award $5.25M In Charter School Sex Abuse Trial

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Jurors have reached a verdict in the case of a former Downtown Miami Charter School student who was allegedly sexually abused by an older classmate at the school repeatedly.

The Downtown Miami Charter school will have to pay $5.25 million to the boy, after the jury found that the school failed to protect him, even after the abuse was first reported. The boy and his mother sued Charter Schools USA, the parent company of the elementary school, for $25 million.

The boy, now 10, claims he was abused in the school's bathrooms when he was seven and eight years old. On multiple occasions, an older student at the same school, forced the boy to perform sex acts on him. The boy also said the older student told him he would kill his mother if he told anyone about the abuse. The child and his mother say the school did not protect the boy from being sexually abused by the other student.

("The boy) tried to seek help," said the boy's attorney, Jeffrey Herman. "He talked about it when it first happened, and you could see in this trio,l that the school just didn't believe him."

The charter school's principal, assistant principal and others testified during the trial that the assaults could not have occurred in the way the boy described. School officials testified the restroom where the alleged assaults occurred was always monitored by a staff member during the times the child claims he was attacked, and was off-limits to the older students.

"We're obviously very disappointed," said Todd Ehrenreich, the attorney for the charter school. "We thought that the way the evidence came in, they were going to find there was no negligence."

The charter school says it plans to appeal this verdict.

While the boy did not get as much as it asked for in the lawsuit, the mother of the boy believes it will be enough for him to get the best therapy and medication to help him move on from the incident.

"I think that it will ensure that he has a great life," said his mother, whose name we're not revealing to protect the child's privacy. "Everything that I couldn't provide before, he can now have access to."

The boy's mother also urged other parents to fully investigate stories children tell about incidents at school. The lawyer for the school often said the mother was the one lying about what really happened in order to get millions.

Any money awarded to the boy will get administered in monitored by the court system, according to Florida law.

"The truth prevails," said the boy's mother. "Whenever you try to be sneaky, you always get caught."

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