Of the more than 150 lawsuits filed under the state’s Child Victim’s Act, dozens stand against Western New York school districts.
In two sets of cases, each filed by the same attorney, teachers are alleged to have groomed students for sex or sexual contact, sometimes for years. And in each of the cases, these victims thought they were involved in an actual relationship.
“She was damaged because of it. You do things like that to a young, impressionable girl, and it creates scars,” said Hamburg-based attorney Daniel Chiacchia, who’s had a busy month.
He represents six clients, who claim they were sexually abused by their teachers.
“She” is now in her late 30s, and a former student in Portville Central Schools.
A lawsuit filed last month details sexual abuse at the hands of a former high school band teacher, Richard Haley.
“It was obvious that this did happen,” Chiacchia said. “The details she was able to provide are just too much for anybody to say that it isn’t true.”
The lawsuit says the sexual abuse and contact happened in the mid to late 1990s, over the course of about two years, when she was between 14 and 17 years old.
Haley was eventually fired, following an investigation by the state education department, according to representatives. Haley could not be reached for comment.
Almost 20 years before, and 70 miles north, similar abuses had occurred, Chiacchia said.”His inappropriateness was over the top,” he said.
Five women say, Michael McGuire, a former teacher and coach at Immaculata Academy, sexually abused them.
Immaculata closed in 2016. McGuire left the academy in 1983, and went on to work at Fantasy Island, and eventually was elected mayor of Blasdell.
“He’d kind of throw bait out there and see who grabs at it, and those are the ones he kind of targeted,” Chiacchia said. “These were all separate events, separate women, and I think there’s others out there. They were all happening around the same time. Neither one knew what the other was doing kind of thing. So it was very predatory behavior.”
McGuire declined to comment when he was reached by cell phone Monday. When asked whether he could confirm or deny the allegations laid out in the lawsuit, he hung up.
In each of the cases from Immaculata and Portville, the victims believed they were in relationships with the men who are alleged to have sexually abused them — at ages that meant they couldn’t consent, especially to an adult teacher.
“You send your children to school, and you’re expecting that teachers are going to teach and mentor and things like that,” Chiacchia said. “You don’t expect your kids to go to school and end up in a relationship, a sexual relationship, with a teacher.”