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Officials arrested, deaf students sent home

OMAHA, Neb. -- All 154 students at the Nebraska School for the Deaf have been sent home following the arrests of two top officials and allegations of sexual abuse and other improprieties at the state-run institution.

Administrator George W. Collins, 43, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Bruce Becker, 46, former dean of boys, were scheduled to be arraigned in Municipal Court at 2 p.m. today on child abuse charges for allegedly ignoring evidence a male student had been raped.

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The students were sent home for 3 weeks while state education officials review the situation at Nebraska's only state-run residential school for children with severe hearing problems.

Collins and Becker were arrested Tuesday following a police investigation. It uncovered allegations of sexual abuse of students by staff members, sexual misconduct among students, misappropriation of funds, and drug-related problems.

The felony charges they face carry a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Becker, who has spent 30 years at the north Omaha campus, is a former student and longtime dean of boys who switched to a job as a house parent in January. Collins has been the school's administrator for nine years.

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A warrant issued as a result of the investigation alleges that on May 12, 1983, a 15-year-old boy at the residential state school was sexually assaulted by another student, causing an injury to his bowel. The boy required hospital treatment.

A house parent reported the assault to Becker and Collins. An Omaha police officer said in an affidavit Becker and Collins did not report the incident to police, and did nothing to prevent a second assault, which did occur.

Collins was released after posting $5,000 bond. Becker was held in lieu of $5,000 bond.

Deputy Douglas County Attorney Marc Delman said only Becker and Collins will be charged with felonies. He said the city prosecutor's office might file misdemeanor charges against as many as 13 of the school's 110 staff members.

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