The prestigious Brooklyn Friends School is facing a lawsuit from a former student who claims she was repeatedly raped by a janitor — and officials swept it under the rug.
Amala Muhammed Redd, who’s now 47 and attended the school between 1979 and 1990, filed the suit in Kings County Supreme Court Thursday under the recently passed Child Victims Act, which changes the statute of limitations for child sex crimes.
Redd alleges a school janitor, named in court papers as Jesus Flores, used to take her out of class when she was in the second and third grade, bring her to a closet, and repeatedly sexually abuse her.
“He was brazen, he would come into my classroom and tell my teacher I had a phone call or that I was needed downstairs,” Redd told The Post.
“I was instructed by him to wait in a sports closet on the top floor of the school next to the gym and that’s where I would wait for him to accost me.”
The independent Quaker school, which has locations all over the country and bases their curriculum on the Religious Society of Friends, counts Malia and Sasha Obama, Vera Wang, Chelsea Clinton and Bill Nye as some of its notable nationwide alumni.
Redd said the alleged abuse at the school — where tuition now runs upwards of $45,000 a year — included kissing, oral sex and rape that left her in “excruciating pain.”
“It’s like if your daughter was hit by a car one day she would be broken and in need of help and long term care and that’s what happened to me but my scars weren’t visible,” Redd said as she wiped tears from her eyes.
Soon Redd’s teacher caught on to the janitor’s visits, thought they were strange and put a stop to them — but then failed to alert anyone else in the school about what was going on, Redd alleged.
That’s when the janitor allegedly began targeting the child while she was in gym class — telling her to just leave on her own and wait for him in the closet.
“I was instructed to go and I felt I had to go, I felt like he had authority,” Redd explained, adding her gym teacher never intervened.
“It was happening right outside, less than two and a half feet away from the door to the gym,” the woman said.
Redd, who is now a real estate agent in Manhattan, said she used to bite her lips until they bled and would bang her head against the wall in a desperate attempt to signal to someone else something was wrong.
“[I tried] to look like I was bruised so that I didn’t have to go to the gym and he couldn’t get me,” Redd sobbed.
It never worked.
Finally, an after school teacher caught the janitor in the act and he was removed from the school, the suit claims.
Redd said it was the last time she ever saw the man but it was also the last time any direct action was taken to remedy her abuse.
Both the school and the NYPD never conducted an independent investigation and the janitor was never prosecuted, Redd alleged. Flores could not immediately be reached for comment.
“No one ever called this man to task. He was never arrested. And I don’t understand how you could just let it go. I couldn’t let it go,” Redd fumed.
“It feels like it was filed away and it isn’t fair because I can’t express to you the kind of pain that I have suffered in relation to this,” Redd continued with fresh sobs.
Worse, when Redd went back to the school years later to demand answers for what she experienced, staff told her they suspected something was wrong but they never investigated further.
“I just wish that they had taken a stronger position,” Redd said.
The native New Yorker, who grew up in East Flatbush, Brooklyn and now lives in Manhattan, said the alleged trauma made her feel as if she was “carrying around a bag of bricks with you everyday” that led to a reckless and unhealthy lifestyle — one she’s only recently gotten past with the help of therapy.
“I would wake up with fists, I would wake up crying, it was like I was crying in my sleep,” Redd explained.
“Even today, you know waking up this morning, I woke up like that,” she continued.
“It just doesn’t go away.”
Redd has decided to sue the school so many years later because she wanted her voice to finally be heard — and said she wanted to give a voice to other young girls who might be in a similar situation.
“My platform in doing this is for the little girls who are experiencing it now or the 20-year-olds who went through something like this to know that there is a remedy for them,” Redd explained.
“I want for that person to be heard as well. No one should have to carry this, no one.”
The Manhattanite has hired a team of lawyers from the Zalkin Law Firm and the Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson firm to sue the Friends School for their alleged complicity in her abuse — an act her lawyers called “inexcusable.”
“When you have a child that’s in the third grade… that’s being taken out of a classroom by a custodian or janitor, repeatedly, and whatever the excuse is, it’s gotta raise a red flag,” said Irwin Zalkin, who’s represented a slew of sex abuse survivors, many who suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“One of the things we hear in these cases, when the abuse occurred back in the 60s or 70s, ‘well we just didn’t know then what we know now, we weren’t as alert to these red flags then as we are now.’ And to that I say that’s nonsense,” Zalkin railed.
“It’s unforgivable. I don’t think there’s any excuse for it.”
Crissy Cáceres, the head of Brooklyn Friends School, said in a statement they “acknowledge the seriousness of the allegations as reported by the media.”
“We have not yet received the lawsuit, and thus, are unaware of its details. Once we have more details, we will of course review this matter with the urgent attention it requires,” Cáceres wrote in the statement.
Zalkin said Redd’s complaint makes it clear that the school was more concerned with protecting their image than protecting the children they were entrusted to watch over.
“The institutions have a tendency to want to protect their brand over the safety of children and they don’t want their reputation marred by these types of” cases, Zalkin said.
“Until they start to understand the need to protect these kids and the well-being of these kids is more important than their brand, we’re going to have this problem.”