Lieff Cabraser is investigating reports of sexual misconduct at the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford, Connecticut by former faculty and staff at the school and at a summer camp operated by the school. In a recently-released report, the school admitted it had corroborated allegations of sexual misconduct against several former faculty and staff, including a longtime executive director who is accused of sexually abusing a student decades ago.
Nearly 40 alumni have also reported “persistent” physical abuse and corporal punishment dating back to the 1960s through at least the 1980s. Students indicated they were slapped and punched, forced to kneel on broomsticks, restrained with belts and straightjackets, forced to eat until vomiting, and confined in hampers and closets as punishment. School officials said one former student credibly reported that she was sexually abused by the late Dr. Edmund Boatner, who was executive director of ASD from 1935 to 1970.
The allegations come in the wake of new legislation enacted in Connecticut in 2019 that extends the statute of limitations for sexual abuse crimes past their previously narrow limits. Experts note that these kinds of mentor-student sexual abuse cases hinge on the mentors’ power and access to the students, and that given the wide power imbalance and shaming relied on by the predatory abuser, it is not uncommon for victims to wait to report the abuse.
Lieff Cabraser represents individuals nationwide in sexual abuse lawsuits against their teachers, doctors, clergy, and other abusers, including the USC sexual abuse litigation filed on behalf of nearly 18,000 women abused by University gynecologist George Tydall, where Lieff Cabraser partner Annika K. Martin serves as co-lead class counsel whose efforts led to a historic settlement for victims of $215 million.