The boys, who are nonverbal, could not tell their parents what was happening. But there were signs that something was wrong.
MALIBU, Calif. (KABC) -- The parents of twin boys with autism were awarded a $45 million judgement after filing a lawsuit claiming their sons were physically abused at their elementary school in Malibu.
The lawsuit brought by Charles and Nadine Wong claimed that Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District officials did not report the abuse to authorities after employees reported the abuse. Now the parents are hoping the outcome will lead to change.
"I felt, finally, we can prove what they did," Charles Wong said in an interview with ABC7. "It's out in the open now and the jury saw it."
The lawsuit accused the district of not taking any action when the Wongs' sons, Christian and Christopher, were physically abused by employees at Malibu's Juan Cabrillo Elementary School in 2017. The twins are now 12 years old. They were 8 at the time they were abused.
Attorney Omar Qureshi, a member of the Wongs' legal team, said a school bus driver first reported the abuse to supervisors, followed by an employee at the school who did the same thing.
"A teacher at the school made a report of child abuse," Qureshi said. "That got the sheriffs sent over to the Wongs' house to check up on the boys and that's where the family learned that their was abuse in the classroom."
The twins, who are nonverbal, could not tell their parents what was happening to them. But there were signs, according to Charles and Nadine, that something was wrong. The Wongs said their boys were acting out very aggressively towards them - behavior they had not previously shown.
"As a parent, you know something is wrong when your child is treating everyone different," Nadine Wong said. "You know yourself and you look at your child and you say, 'What has happened to you?' But they can't tell us."
Dr. Ben Drati, the superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, said in a statement:
"Nothing is - or ever could be - more important to us than the safety and security of all students. Our ongoing dedication to our special needs students is paramount to the success of our district as a whole, and we are committed to making sure that nothing like what has been claimed here could ever happen in the future.
"We must always examine our shortcomings, but we are also determined to protect the well-being of thousands of our future students and ensure that an unduly punitive award cannot impact the quality of education for an entire generation."
The district reportedly told another media outlet that officials working with the district's legal team to explore options to respond to what they believe to be a verdict that was not justified by the evidence presented
The twin boys are now enrolled in what the parents described as a non-public school for children with autism.