Eight families whose children attended the Washington Hebrew Congregation’s Early Childhood Center are alleging in a lawsuit that their children were sexually abused by an assistant teacher for more than two years and that the preschool, through its own negligence, allowed it to happen.
Filed Monday evening, the lawsuit claims that Jordan Silverman, an assistant teacher at the preschool since early 2016, committed “the most grievous, demeaning and damaging forms of sexual abuse” against children between the ages of 2 and 4 at the preschool.
According to the suit, the abuse began in March of 2016 and ended in August 2018, when Metropolitan Police began their investigation. According to the police, that investigation is still ongoing and no arrests have been made. Silverman was dismissed from the preschool shortly after August of last year.
The lawsuit specifically targets Washington Hebrew Congregation and DJ Schneider Jensen, the temple’s head of schools since 2014, saying that she dismissed specific and repeated warnings about Silverman’s behavior, at one point calling them the product of a witness’s own “sick mind.”
The families, being represented Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, are not seeking a specific monetary sum. According to attorney Michael Dolce, damages will be determined by a jury. Dolce said that the families believe there are more victims than the eight children listed in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit accuses the preschool of violating District of Columbia law by allowing Silverman to be alone with children.
In a statement, Washington Hebrew Congregation said it acted as soon as it learned of allegations of abuse.
“On August 16, 2018, as soon as we learned of these allegations, Washington Hebrew Congregation reported the allegations of sex abuse to DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and Child Protective Services,” the statement reads. “Since that moment and for the past eight months we have continually and fully cooperated with the ongoing criminal investigation. We have kept the community regularly apprised of what we know. … Child safety has always been our top priority. Contrary to allegations in the Complaint, our early childhood centers have not violated the law.”
Jared Foretek is a reporter at Washington Jewish Week, a sister publication of the Baltimore Jewish Times.