Justin Langlois is 10 days shy of his 18th birthday. Instead of planning a celebration, he's in court, recounting sexual abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of his paternal uncle Casey Langlois.
Although it is WCAX News policy not to identify the victims of sexual assault, this victim requested we show his face and use his name. He hopes others will learn from his tragedy.
Justin was raped more than 50 times over 14 months in unimaginable ways.
"This is the dog collar he had on me. He took pictures of me with it on," Justin said.
In 2006, Casey Langlois was convicted and is still in jail. But Justin wanted to hold school officials accountable for not stopping the abuse. He filed a civil lawsuit against the Washington South Supervisory Union, the Roxbury Village School and several former school employees, claiming they failed to report the abuse. The case lasted less than a week.
"In a nutshell the case is over and I'll tell you why," Judge Geoffrey Crawford said. "The school district, through its insurers, offered Justin Langlois a million dollars to settle the case."
Justin's attorneys say administrators at the Roxbury Village School learned about Justin's abuse and failed to report it; a decision they say could have saved the then fourth-grader from 14 more months of sexual abuse.
"One little phone call, one little suspicion could save a child from being abused again," Justin said.
"It's a real tragedy that this happened to this boy," said Amedeo David Santi, who was on the school board at the time.
Santi says Principal John LaRock's failure to report the sexual abuse is inexcusable.
"He knew full well that this needed to be reported immediately... any sane decent human being would have reported immediately and put a stop to it," Santi said.
But LaRock denies these allegations. He says he did not have sufficient information to report child abuse.
In court, after the settlement was announced, Justin requested to address the jury. He says as a result of the ongoing abuse he has become a sex offender himself and spent 20 months in a residential treatment facility. He calls that period of his life therapeutic and says he is trying to turn his life around.
"Yes, this happened to me. I'm not going to dwell on it and think that that's all my life is about," he said. "I'm trying to show people that yes, bad things happen to people, but that doesn't make them bad people."
The current superintendant of schools, Michele Fagan, issued a statement but refused to answer any further questions.
"None of the defendants were found liable to Justin," Fagan said. "The settlement was reached to put an end to a disputed claim and allow Justin to move forward in his life. We wish him every success."
Justin said he wanted to address the jury and the media to make sure his story is heard. He hopes his case will draw more attention to the state's mandatory reporting laws. He also wants lawmakers to pass an amendment to the law requiring that mandated reporters receive annual training.