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Sexual Abuse – Joseph Casucci and the New York School for the Deaf aka Fanwood

Sexual Abuse – Joseph Casucci and the New York School for the Deaf aka Fanwood (White Plains, NY)

A dozen women have recently accused a dorm supervisor at the New York School for the Deaf of sexually abusing them while they were students several decades ago.  The victims filed a lawsuit against the New York School for the Deaf, former members of the school’s Board of Trustees, and the New York State Education Department alleging that Joseph Casucci sexually abused them on a daily basis between 1964 and 1975 and that the school and its supervisors failed to protect students from harm.

The New York School for the Deaf, located in Westchester, New York, is a private institution operating under the New York State Education Department.  It is dedicated to providing educational services for deaf children from elementary school through high school.  The lawsuit is being brought under the New York Child Victims Act, which permits survivors to file civil lawsuits until the age of 55 and to sue for any abuse within a one-year window beginning August 15, 2019. Governor Cuomo subsequently extended the window an additional year so that it now expires on August 14, 2021.

The victims described horrific abuse during their childhoods at the hands of Mr. Casucci, who died in the early 2000s.  The basis of the complaint is that the school failed to provide a safe environment for its students and that they knew or should have known about Mr. Casucci’s actions.  In fact, many of the victims reported the abuse to school administration, but Casucci was not removed from his position until a group of students who had already graduated reported the abuse in 1979.

Sexual abuse at the New York School for the Deaf was particularly egregious since the perpetrator took advantage of a distinctly vulnerable population.  Research has shown that increased rates of sexual abuse exist in the deaf youth community. According to a Rochester Institute of Technology study, the rate of abuse and maltreatment is more than 25 percent higher among deaf and hard-of-hearing children than hearing children. 77 percent of deaf respondents reported some form of exploitation, including sexual abuse, compared with 49 percent of hearing respondents. Children with more severe hearing loss reported a higher rate of mistreatment.  In addition, attending a special school for deaf children presents an increased risk of abuse whether the students lived at home or in boarding schools. 

Sexual abuse has long-term consequences for many victims for years after the abuse ends.  For deaf children, the impact may be magnified.  Deaf children who suffered abuse had higher rates of negative thoughts about themselves and their futures than hearing children. Unfortunately, very few cases of sexual abuse of the deaf are reported to parents or the authorities.             

Levy Konigsberg LLP is a nationally recognized law firm that has recovered millions of dollars for victims of sexual abuse.  If you or a member of your family has been the victim of sexual abuse, please contact our lawyers for a free consultation by calling 1-800-225-9825 or submit an email inquiry on this page.   

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