Providence Superintendent didn’t know about law changes

By: Chloe Leshner

cleshner@abc6.com

@cleshnerabc6

WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) — One last jam-packed day of testimony in the trial of a Providence elementary school principal at the center of a sexual assault scandal. Violet LeMar is accused of failing to report sexual assault complaints against a gym teacher to the DCYF.

LeMar has long said she wasn’t aware of the law change that required her to report these types of allegations to the DCYF within 24 hours and today several school officials testified in court, the superintendent among them, saying they also had no knowledge of the change.

Providence Schools Superintendent Christopher Maher on the stand for more than 2 hours today, questioned on what he knew about allegations made against an elementary school gym teacher and why the principal of that school, Violet LeMar, failed to report the information to the DCYF within 24 hours.

He testified that he didn’t know about all the allegations at the time they were made and that in May 2017 he didn’t know about the changes to the duty to report law. But after reading the statements the alleged victims gave to LeMar in court today, he says if he were in her position he would’ve contacted police and the DCYF right away and that he’s "disappointed" that’s not what happened.
Back in May, James Duffy was put on administrative leave after female students reported that he had touched them inappropriately. It wasn’t until a few days later that police became involved and it’s only because parents told them, not the school.
School district protocol requires staff members fill out reports for anything raising a red flag and to do it on the day of an incident. According to Maher, in this case, LeMar didn’t submit a report until nearly 2 months later on July 5.

The Executive Director and Human Resources Director also testified today, echoing that LeMar didn’t get them all of the information they would need to properly handle this.
Closing arguments are expected tomorrow.

(C) WLNE/ABC 6 2018