CHICAGO — A Chicago-based law firm filed a child sex abuse lawsuit against a Wisconsin military academy Monday.
The lawsuit, filed by Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, alleges that St. John’s Northwestern Academies — located in Delafield, Wisconsin, just west of Milwaukee — fostered a ‘Lord of the Flies’ atmosphere among student cadets that allowed and encouraged student self-governance where multiple on-campus incidents of physical and sexual violence between cadets were overlooked by the academy.
According to SJNA’s website, they use a prefect-style model at their academy, which is where the academy encourages student self-governance through ‘Preps’ — older students — accepting the responsibility of assisting and guiding other students in the classroom, residence halls, and other group activities.
In further detail, the lawsuit alleges negligent actions of the academy that allowed for then-minor plaintiff John Doe to suffer repeated abuse by a fellow cadet several years ago, despite assurances to the victim’s mother and father that the academy would provide a safe environment for their son.
The lawsuit alleges Title IX violations, on top of negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation, and assault and battery among the nine counts listed in the official complaint.
“Not only did the school administration repeatedly fail to act as mandatory reporters regarding these conditions, [but] they [also] fostered a climate in which unlawful and unacceptable conduct was encouraged,” said Romanucci & Blandin Partner Martin D. Gould. “The courage of our client to come forward regarding this abuse will help protect the future classes of the Academy by forcing them to have zero tolerance when it comes to the sexual abuse of children.”
In a statement released to WGN News, St. John’s Northwestern Academies said they were “recently notified of a lawsuit that had been filed in federal court against the school and a former student. The allegations stem from a decade-old, alleged abuse incident between two former students.”
The academy goes on to say, “After the end of [the] 2011-2012 school year, SJNA was made aware of these allegations through an investigation conducted by Delafield Police Department. As reported at the time, SJNA fully cooperated with authorities during their investigation. SJNA will respond to the lawsuit through the legal system.”
SJNA concluded the statement by saying “St. John’s Northwestern Academies takes all allegations of sexual violence and assault very seriously. Our dedicated faculty and staff have been and will remain steadfast on the safety and well-being of our students and our entire community.”