Family sues Warwick principal, city over failure to report sexual abuse

Photo: Warwick Police Department

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The family of a child with autism is suing the city of Warwick and the principal of Cedar Hill Elementary School for failing to report alleged sexual abuse and harassment from classmates.

Parents of the child claim Warwick and Cedar Hill Elementary School Principal Dr. Colleen Mercurio violated their rights and the rights of their 14-year-old son under the Americans Disabilities Act. The family’s suit claims the city failed to properly train, supervise, or discipline Mercurio.

The family is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

Mercurio pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failing to report child abuse.

Both Dr. Mercurio’s lawyer and the Warwick School District declined to comment on the suit Thursday.

Principal Dr. Colleen Mercurio is one of three Rhode Island educators that has been arrested on a controversial DCYF 24- hour reporting law.  When Dr. Mercurio was charged in November of 2017, Warwick Police Maj. Rick Rathbun said this marks the first time Warwick police have charged someone with failure to report child abuse.