Families file lawsuit against Washington Hebrew Congregation preschool over alleged child sex abuse

Several families have filed a civil lawsuit against a Jewish preschool in Northwest Washington for the alleged repeated sexual abuse of children.

There have been no criminal charges filed at this time and DC Police are still investigating, but an attorney for the families say the abuse has been going on for over a span of two years.

The alleged abuse is said to have happened inside the Washington Hebrew Congregation.

Right now, the attorney for the case is representing eight families connected to the alleged abuse and says that out of his decades worth of experience in dealing with victims of sex crimes, he says this is one of the worst incidents he's ever seen.

"The most we're allowed to say based on the fact that there is an active criminal investigation is that the children suffered some of the most egregious forms of sexual abuse that is known to our system of laws. Really horrific stuff," said Attorney Michael Dolce.

Last August, Washington Hebrew Congregation told police and child protective services about allegations regarding sexual abuse.

Now, eight families are suing the preschool within the synagogue claiming they ignored warning signs while a teacher sexually abused at least seven children over a two year period, according to the victim's attorney.

The attorney says the teacher, who has not been charged at this time, allegedly sexually abused boys and girls between the ages of two and four.

Here's the unusual part, the civil lawsuit not only names the preschool but also Deborah "DJ" Schneider Jenson, who serves as the school's director of early childhood education.

The attorney claims the school routinely violated D.C.'s "two-deep" policy that says two adults must be present together at any and all times that one or more children are present.

He also says Jenson, who hired the teacher, permitted and even encouraged the accused teacher to be alone with children.

The lawsuit claims Jenson did nothing after several teachers and parents complained to her about the possible abuse.

After speaking with the families' attorney, he says no parent should ever have to live through a nightmare like this.

"Well, certainly, any parent understands that the worst thing to happen to them is for something to happen to their child. This is compounded in this case by the knowledge that we have gained in our investigation that this was completely avoidable. If the law had been followed none of these Holsteins would have been harmed is our belief and we're prepared to prove that in court," said Dolce.

On Tuesday, The Washington Hebrew Congregation responded to the allegations by saying, in part:

"Child safety has always been our top priority. Contrary to the allegations in the complaint, our early childhood centers have not violated the law. We have not been found to be in violation of state regulations as alleged in the complaint based on at least three inspections since the allegations first arose in August 2018."