Education Association: Teachers Named in Avon “Cult” Suit “Falsely Implicated”

Days after an Avon, Connecticut, family filed a lawsuit against the Avon Public Schools, three teachers and a guidance counselor, as well as Wellesley College in Massachusetts, claiming their three daughters were indoctrinated into a religious cult while at the high school, the state Education Association is speaking out on behalf of the teachers.

The 64-page suit -- filed on behalf of Jane Doe, John Doe and J.D. -- claims the two older daughters were indoctrinated into a religious cult that promoted martyrdom and celebrated death.

The Connecticut Education Association, which represents 43,000 teachers in the state, is working with the Avon Education Association to support the Avon educators named in the federal complaint.

"All teachers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and it is troubling to witness innocent educators being falsely implicated," CEA President Sheila Cohen said in a statement.

The girls, now 22 and 19 years old, became reclusive and secretive, started speaking in a bizarre new language and had fantasies of “suicidal ideation and martyrdom,” according to the suit, filed in the federal court in Hartford.

When the middle daughter had the same teachers, her personality began to change and she became testy and disrespectful of her mother, the suit claims.

The younger daughter was targeted to be indoctrinated as well, but eventually broke free from the influence of the teachers, according to the suit.

NBC Connecticut reached out to Avon Public Schools and they responded by e-mail.

“The district administration is in receipt of the complaint filed recently in federal court and is reviewing it at this time. No communications regarding that which is alleged in the complaint have been received in the past,” a statement from Supt. Gary Mala says. “We will continue to review the content of the complaint and have turned the matter over to our school district legal counsel."

The family also claims that older daughter and other girls would frequently go to Alumni Hall in Wellesley College, where it was desolate, and dance, sing and perform “’whirling dervishes’, -- religious dances – until the wee hours of the morning."

In July 2013, the two older girls stayed with one of the Avon teachers until their college housing was available, according to the complaint. The location was kept secret from the parents and the girls have had almost no communication with their family since.

Officials from the Wellesley media relations office said they were not aware of the situation, but after being contacted by NBC Connecticut, said they would investigate.

"We emphasize that the federal complaint contains nothing but accusations. All indications are that these accusations do not contain a shred of truth," the statement from the CEA says. "We are heartened by the support that the Avon Public Schools has shown to the town’s educators, and we look forward to a speedy resolution of this matter."

NBC Connecticut reached out to the attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the family, but he has not returned our calls.

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