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Miami-Dade School Board Settles With Families Of Sexual Assault Victims For Nearly $9 Million

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Attorneys for 5 former students from Brownsville Middle School who said they were sexually assaulted by a former physical education teacher from Brownsville Middle School are speaking out after a nearly $9 million settlement with the Miami-Dade School Board.

The attorneys say they are confirming one broadcast report that the settlement was for $8,753,000.

Attorney Aaron Karger told CBS4's Peter D'Oench, "I am extremely satisfied that justice has been achieved. But secondary to that, I feel this will serve as a deterrent." The attorneys had sued claiming the Miami-Dade School Board failed to protect the students.

Karger said the settlement would lead to school officials taking complaints from students more seriously.

"Going forward investigations must be more extensive and thorough. We feel that change will be affected in the district so no teacher or staff member will ever go unchecked in the face of sexual assault allegations."

Attorney Pedro Echarte said, "Our clients are relieved they can close this chapter behind them and move on with their lives as best they can and have the resources to do so. This sends a very strong message that if you are a school district, if you are an administrator in a school whether it be private or public, you need to take allegations of teacher misconduct seriously. In this day and age, there is no excuse for investigators not to take allegations seriously."

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Karger said, "I think there is an important message that students' voices must be heard no matter their status or their position in their school. The other message is that there has to be an enhanced form of student monitoring and attention to particularly disadvantaged students."

Echarte said, "Young women can no longer be preyed upon at Brownsville Middle School. We hope this leads to change throughout the School Board and they are a large part of that."

The settlement was announced nearly three years after former teacher Wendell Nibbs was arrested and charged with sexual battery on children between the ages of 12 and 17 years old.

The original arrest report said Nibbs, then a married father of 2 children, badgered some students, made crude references to their bodies, and had sex with two of them—in one case during school hours while inside a classroom.

The report said he also exchanged nude photos with students by texting and told students he wanted to see their private parts.

Nibbs is currently serving an 8-year sentence after pleading guilty to three counts of sexual activity with a minor.

The attorneys filed suit on behalf of five students—-four of whom said they were raped and a 5th student said she was sexually harassed and touched inappropriately. Nine students came forward with allegations.

The incidents with the 5 students happened between 2013 and 2017. Nibbs, who was arrested on November 30th of 2017, had been a teacher at the school since 2003.

Echarte said the victims were "doing well" after receiving therapy and counseling.

Daisy Gonzalez-Diego, a spokeswoman for Miami-Dade Public Schools, released a statement, saying, "While we typically do not comment on legal matters, Miami-Dade Public Schools is compelled to speak out against the abhorrent actions of this serial abuser and stand with the innocent victims of these heinous crimes. We hope they can overcome the heartbreaking events they endured and find peace and comfort."

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