Education

P.E. teacher got away with sexually harassing girls for 13 years — then he raped one, lawsuit says

For at least 13 years, Wendell Nibbs — a physical education teacher at Brownsville Middle School in Miami — got away with sexually assaulting and harassing at least six teen girls on school grounds, according to allegations in a recent lawsuit.

Nibbs, who was arrested in November of 2017 after police said he raped his 15-year-old student, had already been accused of sexually harassing and having inappropriate interactions with at least five other female students since 2004, school records show. He was also accused of smacking a teacher’s buttocks and “striking” two other students, complaints show.

Eight of nine documented accusations —which over time were filed with Miami-Dade County Public Schools — were found to be “unsubstantiated” by school investigators because there was “no probable cause,” records show.

On Monday, the first day back from winter recess in Miami-Dade, the mother of the 15-year-old plans on discussing her Nov. 26 negligence lawsuit against the School Board outside its downtown Miami offices.

“Despite notice and knowledge of the repeated accusations against Nibbs, [the School Board] failed to discipline Nibbs, allowed Nibbs to maintain his position as a teacher at Brownsville Middle School, and allowed him to maintain unfettered access to young female students at the school,” the lawsuit says.

“Moreover, [the School Board] did nothing to warn the young female students or their parents about Nibbs, the prior accusations against, and his dangerous sexual predatory behavior.”

Miami-Dade County School officials did not respond to comment requests by the Miami Herald Sunday evening.

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Brownsville Middle School J.P. Hervis

It was only shortly before Nibbs’ 2017 arrest that a 2016 compliant against Nibbs was found to have probable cause after he told a student she had a “fat a--,” questioned why she was wearing a thong under her P.E. shorts and then refused to let her change her clothes when she asked.

The student, who told school investigators she believed she was being discriminated against because she identified as gay, said Nibbs told her all she needed was an experience with a man “to be straight,” records show.

It was that student who led investigators to the victim in the filed lawsuit, telling authorities she found naked pictures of Nibbs in her friend’s cellphone.

According to the lawsuit, the 15-year-old victim, referred to as “Jane Doe,” told police she began having sex with the coach in his classroom during school hours and even exchanged naked photos through a messaging app. The teen ultimately transferred to another school and Nibbs asked her to keep their relationship secret.

The relationship began when Nibbs befriended the girl, who was being bullied, according to an arrest warrant.

“Beginning in her sixth grade school year and continuing through the end of her eighth grade school year at Brownsville Middle (2013 through 2016), Nibbs sexually harassed, sexually assaulted and raped Jane Doe,” said family spokesman, J.P. Hervis. “The assaults and rape occurred on school premises. Nibbs also sent Jane Doe sexually explicit photographs of himself.”

On one occasion, Nibbs told the girl to take off her pants. That’s when Nibbs cleared his desk, took out a condom from his back pocket and had sexual intercourse with the girl. After that, he forced the girl to perform oral sex on him and flushed the condom down the toilet, according to the warrant.

Nibbs remains at Miami-Dade County jail on two counts of engaging in sexual acts with a minor with no bond. Nobody answered phone calls at his home from the Miami Herald Sunday night. A trial hearing is scheduled for March 18.

The Miami Herald reviewed 132 pages of Nibbs’ school records. In one 2004 complaint, a student told administrators Nibbs touched her on the stomach and made sexual comments.

“One day you’re going to be be mine,” the victim said Nibbs told her, according to a complaint filed a few weeks after the incident. He then asked her if she was having sex and asked her to perform oral sex on him.

“The reason I didn’t tell anyone its because I figured they they wouldn’t believe me so I just left it at that,” the teen wrote.

That same year, Nibbs offered a teen money for oral sex and she declined, according to court records. Another teen complained that Nibbs “grabbed her leg and started rubbing her in a sexual way.”

In a 2005 incident, one teen told school leaders Nibbs told her to kiss her: “I was walking with my friend and he asked me for a kiss and I said never,” the girl wrote.

Records show Nibbs said “That is all a lie.” Shortly after that, Nibbs was accused of fondling another teen, an arrest warrant says.

In 2013, another girl says Nibbs constantly made sexual passes at her. A police report narrative says that “Nibbs told her he will give her the best present in life when she turns 18.”

The girl said Nibbs showed her a naked woman with a pierced vagina and another photo of a nude buttocks on his cellphone. The girl told investigators that Nibbs asked her why she wasn’t going on the eighth grade trip and told her it’s “your loss; you could have been spending quality time with me,” records show.

“Mr. Nibbs told her that he was going out of town because his girl could not get enough of his ‘chocolate thunder,’ ” the report said.

According to the November lawsuit, the family of “Jane Doe” is asking for an unspecified amount of money and is demanding a jury trial.

“These damages included, but are not limited to, past and future pain and suffering, mental anguish, and past and future medical and therapeutic care,” the lawsuit said.

Monique O. Madan covers immigration and enterprise; she previously covered breaking news and local government. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and The Dallas Morning News. She is currently a Reveal Fellow at the Center for Investigative Reporting. She graduated from Miami Dade College and Emerson College in Boston. A note to tipsters: If you want to send Monique confidential information, her email and mailbox are open. The address is 3511 NW 91st Ave, Doral, FL 33172. You can also direct message her on social media and she’ll provide encrypted Signal details.
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