BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. — A former student in the Shenendehowa School District has filed a lawsuit under the state’s Child Victim’s Act naming the district and a retired teacher as defendants in a sexual abuse complaint.
The former student, identified in the filing only as John Doe, alleges in the Nov. 26 filing that he was sexually abused by retired Tesago Elementary School teacher Richard M. Tebbano and that Shen, through its negligence, let it happen.
According to the filing in Saratoga County State Supreme Court in Ballston Spa, the plaintiff John Doe was a student at Tesago. It is alleged he was sexually abused from the age of 10 to 17.
The filing further states that Shen breached its duties by its failure to take reasonable measures to make sure that policies and procedures to prevent child sex abuse were working, failed to adequately inform families and children of the risks of sex abuse, failed to investigate the risk of child sex abuse, and failed to train its employees properly to identify signs of child sexual abuse by fellow employees.
The filing alleges also that Shen violated its legal duty by failing to report known and/or suspected abuse of children by Tebbano to law enforcement.
The legal action was first reported by the Times Union.
The lawsuit states that defendant John Doe suffers from great pain of mind and body and has severe and permanent emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem humiliation and/or physical, personal and psychological injuries.
“As a direct result John Doe is prevented from performing normal daily activities, obtaining full enjoyment of life and has or will continue to incur expenses for psychological treatment, therapy, and counseling and will incur loss of income or loss of earning capacity,” the filing states.
The causes for the filing against Shen are negligence, negligent hiring, negligent training and supervision, negligent retention.
The causes for the filing against Tebbano are for assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.
Doe, through his attorney, “seeks a judgment in an amount which exceeds jurisdictional limits of all lower courts together with interest the cost of the legal action and any further relief that the court deems just and proper."
Tebbano could not be reached for comment. He is shown as having retired from Shen in April 2009 and is receiving a pension from the school district of less than $9,000 annually.
Asked to comment on the legal action a Shen public information officer Kelly DeFeciani said in an emailed statement, “We have yet to receive any such notice. If or when we do, the matter shall be investigated thoroughly and acted up accordingly pursuant to applicable laws."
Both parties have 30 days after the filing to respond.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victim’s Act into law on Feb. 14. The new law allows all claims that have already expired under the old statute of limitations a one-year extension for claims to be filed.
The CVA extends the statute of limitations for a survivor of child sexual abuse in criminal and civil cases in New York. Survivors are now able to seek monetary damages, but they must file their claims within the new one-year period.
In civil cases, the CVA extends the period of time during which a survivor of child sexual abuse can file a claim for money damages. The CVA also allows claims to be filed against institutions that may have been involved in the abuse.
For all claims that have not already expired under the old statute of limitations period of one to five years, starting after the survivor turned eighteen, the survivor of child sexual abuse will have until the age of 55 to file a claim.
For all claims that have already expired under the old statute of limitations, the CVA provides a one-year extension for claims to be filed now. This means survivors can seek monetary damages, but they must file their claims within the new one-year period which started Feb. 14.