<b>District to pay $3.6 million for blaming 3rd graders after teacher molested them</b>

More than a decade after officials in a Florida school district blamed four little girls after they were molested by a teacher, the Palm Beach County district has been ordered to pay a $3.6 million settlement to the victims and their families, according to news reports.

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In 2005, the district ruled that the four third-grade girls were "old enough to appreciate the consequences of their actions" when they followed their teacher's orders as he molested them, according to court documents. When the victims' families filed a lawsuit, the district said the children "conducted themselves in a careless and negligent manner," so school officials were not responsible for the incidents, according to WSVN.

The third-graders first accused their teacher, Blake Sinrod, who is now 46, of fondling them in a classroom at Coral Sunset Elementary School near Boca Raton in 2005, the NY Daily News reported. Sinrod was investigated by school police after a girl told her mother her teacher touched her under her clothing during a reading group and told her to touch his private area over his clothing, according to police reports.

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The three other girls told similar stories about Sinrod inappropriately touching them or telling them to touch him during reading group sessions or in-class movies.

Sinrod was fired in 2006, and in May of that year, he pleaded guilty to child abuse charges involving two of the children. His teaching license was revoked two years later.

The parents of the four girls filed a civil lawsuit in 2006, and it’s only coming to an end now.

The victims' parents believe Sinrod may have targeted the four girls because they were immigrants, and their families might not have known how to report crimes to the authorities, news reports suggested.

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