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Mother: Fulton County Schools offered hush money to keep student abuse secret

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FULTON COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

The mother of a disabled boy allegedly abused at a Fulton County middle school said the district offered her $200,000 to settle a lawsuit if she wouldn't talk about the abuse.

"I guess that would be considered hush money," said Judy Marshall, whose son Jake attended Hopewell Middle School in Milton from 2004 to 2007. 

Marshall said she turned down the deal to protect other students.

"I don't want this to happen to some other child and if nothing is done to stop other events like this, that would continue to happen," said Marshall.

Former special education teacher Melanie Pickens was indicted last year on child abuse charges after a CBS Atlanta News investigation revealed the Fulton County School District covered up the abuse and Fulton County School police repeatedly failed to investigate it.  

A Fulton County Schools spokeswoman denied the district offered the Marshalls hush money. 

Marshall's attorney Chris Vance said, "the school district in informal negotiations offered to pay Judy and John Marshall $200,000 if they wouldn't talk about what happened at Hopewell."

"Its part of the larger scheme that Fulton County [Schools] has done in this case. Allow [the abuse], promote it and once it finally gets out, hide it, obscure it and try to ensure no one knows what they did," said Vance. 

After rejecting the offer, the Marshalls settled with the district for an undisclosed sum.

Pickens pled not guilty and is awaiting trial.

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