A Connecticut couple accused three high school Spanish teachers and a guidance counselor of indoctrinating their daughters into a death-obsessed religious cult.
In a federal lawsuit filed against the educators, Avon Public Schools, and Wellesley College, the couple said their three daughters “experienced sudden and severe personality changes,” reported Courthouse News.
“They became flat and distant, reclusive, secretive, and non-communicative,” the suit claims. “They lost their humor and their empathy. They began speaking in a bizarre new language. They became unable to think critically or independently.”
The girls became dependent on the teachers, the suit claims, particularly Spanish teacher Tanya Mastoloni.
“The two older Doe sisters were indoctrinated into a religious cult that promotes martyrdom, and celebrates death,” the suit claims. “This has caused the elder Doe sisters to experience fantasies of suicidal ideation and martyrdom.”
The suit claims Mastoloni and the other teachers – identified as Spanish teachers Rebecca Kessler and Christopher Esposito, and guidance counselor Laura Sullivan — preyed on shy students who lacked social skills.
The girls’ parents said Mastoloni, who also goes by Tanya Romero, taught students to believe in superstition, magic, and an anti-intellectual worldview, and promoted belief in astrology, numerology, and mysticism.
“All of those topics are religious in nature, and none of those topics are included in the Avon School District curriculum,” the suit claims.
The parents, identified by the suit as the Doe family, said their youngest daughter, who is 16, was able to break free from the cult, but their 22- and 19-year-old daughters remain under the teachers’ influence.
The young women reported their parents were abusive to get access to housing at Wellesley College, the suit claims.
The eldest daughter began spending time with Mastoloni outside of school when she turned 18 over her parents’ objection, the suit claims.
The middle daughter came to have a similar relationship with Mastoloni after she was assigned to her Spanish class, and the teachers encouraged her to join her sister at Wellesley so they could more easily spend time together.
The parents said they didn’t understand their daughters had been subjected to religious indoctrination until the youngest girl broke free.
“Mastoloni had already converted the two older Doe sisters, and now she was looking to add the third sister to her coven,” the suit claims.
The suit claims the teachers unlawfully infringed the parents right to parental autonomy, and they said the public school district failed to properly supervise its employees.
The parents asked the school district to “provide proper training and supervision to all of its employees with respect to its employees’ obligations to refrain from proselytizing or otherwise indoctrinating students with religion during the course of their employment.”
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