A dozen women are alleging that a former dorm supervisor at the New York School for the Deaf sexually abused them while they were students, a new lawsuit filed in the Supreme Court of New York says.
According to the lawsuit, Joseph Casucci, the dorm supervisor, sexually abused the women, minors at the time, in several areas of their dorm on a daily basis between 1964 and 1975. Casucci died sometime in the early 2000s, the lawsuit says. CNN has attempted to reach Casucci’s family for comment.
The lawsuit names the school, which is based in Westchester, unnamed members of the school’s Board of Trustees at the time, identified as John and Jane Doe, and the New York State Education Department as defendants, and claims that they were negligent in caring for the students.
The complaint specifically alleges that the defendants did not “provide a safe and nurturing educational environment, where they would be protected from employees like Casucci,” and that they knew or should have known about Casucci’s alleged actions.
Kevin Mulhearn, one of three attorneys representing the victims, said at a press conference on Wednesday that he was proud of his clients for filing the case.
“These ladies have waited a long time for justice,” Mulhearn said. “They suffered indignities as children, particularly as vulnerable members of the community as deaf girls. That was unspeakable, horrific and almost unimaginable.”
The alleged victims are seeking compensatory and punitive damages in an amount to be determined by the jury, Mulhearn said.
Steve Straus, an attorney hired to represent the school, said that they are deferring to the legal process, but that the school is “doing everything it can to research the facts and respond to the allegations.”
The school is well-known in the deaf community. Founded in 1817, is a private organization operated in cooperation with the New York State Education Department, according to its website. It provides educational programs to deaf and hard of hearing students in elementary, middle and high school.
CNN has reached out to the New York State Education Department for comment.
Two alleged victims, Marlene Hodge and Damita Jo Damiano, spoke about their experience at the press conference.
“It’s really difficult to talk about it,” Hodge said through interpreter. “He abused all of us in our early childhoods and that’s a scar and trauma that stays with you. You just don’t forget that.”
Damiano said through interpreter that many of the alleged victims did report the alleged abuse to the school administration, but that Casucci wasn’t fired until a group of graduated students complained in 1979.
The case was filed under the New York Child Victims Act, which was signed into law in February of this year. Under this law, survivors of child sexual abuse can pursue criminal felony charges until they turn 28, and file a civil lawsuit before age 55.
“Schools have a duty to protect their students from sexual abuse by their teachers and this is especially true with institutions that serve the most vulnerable students, including those who are Deaf at schools such as Fanwood,” said attorney Paul Mones, who also represents the victims. Fanwood is a nickname for the New York School for the Deaf.
While both victims are nervous about going to court, they are ultimately glad the case is finally able to be filed, they said during the press conference.
“You know, finally, truth is prevailing,” Damiano said through interpreter. “I want justice served.”