With a $550,000 lump-sum payment, the Monroe County School District will likely settle a federal lawsuit by a woman who says her profoundly autistic 12-year-old son was sexually abused by a former substitute teacher now in prison for his child-porn fetish.
School principals and administrators failed to protect the boy despite a prior report that the same teacher had abused a 4-year-old boy at another school, the lawsuit states.
Superintendent Mark Porter and the district’s legal team have approved the deal set to become final Tuesday when the School Board meets.
“It’s the right thing to do for Monroe County schools and for the claimants here,” Porter said. “We’re ready to bring this to closure.”
Porter said it would be inappropriate to comment on the lawsuit’s allegations, particularly that school officials ignored two reports of child sex abuse on campus, but did say it was disputable whether the district had prior notice of substitute teacher William Britt’s behavior.
“Obviously, this was something that needed to be resolved,” said Porter, who didn’t have the breakdown of where the $550,000 will come from but said insurance will cover some of it.
The mother of John Doe No. 124, as the now-16-year-old plaintiff is identified in court records, signed the settlement last week, according to court records.
The $550,000 payout would end a case that began in 2012 when the mother picked up her mentally disabled 12-year-old son from school on Sugarloaf Key. Britt told her the boy needed extra shorts because the ones he wore to school had been dirtied, according to the suit filed Oct. 21 at U.S. District Court in Key West.
Britt told the mother that her son had masturbated in a bathroom — a story the woman said was untrue and impossible — and added it was natural and a way for the boy to calm himself.
The woman told Britt her son was physically incapable of that and even if he could, he lacked the “social grace” to go into a restroom first, the lawsuit states.
She went to school officials the next day but says no action was taken and Britt was removed from the teaching job only when the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office busted him for possessing large amounts of child porn.
Britt, 59, is now a federal prisoner in Sumterville, with a release date of Oct. 29, 2028.
John Doe No. 124’s mother later learned that a 4-year-old boy, identified only as D.R., had told a Key West police officer that “Mr. B” had touched his scrotum with a knife while they were inside a bathroom at Reynolds School, the lawsuit states.
But school officials were dismissive of the report, the woman claims.
In December 2012 — two months after the boy’s mother reported the masturbation story — Britt, who was accused of having child porn, told an FBI agent that the boy had soiled himself and he helped clean him up.
In the process, Britt said, he touched the child’s genitals, which the teacher added was sexually arousing and led him to masturbate to the images in his head later, according to the lawsuit filed by the Herman Law firm of Boca Raton.
In July 2013, Britt was sentenced to 18 years for possessing child pornography after a bizarre arrest during which police say he told them if he could reach his sawed-off 20-gauge shotgun he would do a “suicide by cop.”
Britt had the shotgun in his Ford Econoline van when he was pulled over after a fake job interview set up at a Key West elementary school. Later, police raided the RV he had been living in at the Sigsbee trailer park on Naval Air Station Key West property and found a number of computers and equipment that contained thousands of images of child pornography.
The case started when Britt’s landlord evicted him for a lack of cleanliness and during the process discovered child porn, police said.