TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – More lawsuits could soon be filed against the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda school district.
Chris O’Brien, an attorney who has already filed four Child Victims Act lawsuits against the district, says he was busy over the weekend taking phone calls from more people who claim they were sexually abused by a former teacher.
On Friday, O’Brien filed those lawsuits, which claim that Arthur Werner, a former fifth grade teacher at Herbert Hoover Elementary School, sexually abused four different male students in the 1970s.
“We’re now at a point where we’ve heard from more than 15 people (who say they were abused),” O’Brien told News 4 Tuesday.
After filing the initial lawsuits, O’Brien spoke publicly about the allegations. He gave interviews to multiple media outlets, including News 4. Since then, he says the calls have been coming in from other alleged victims of Werner’s.
“(One of them) told me that as far back as 1963, Mr. Werner had set up a mirror in his classroom so that while he was abusing the boy, he could look at the mirror and see down the hallway to see if anyone was coming,” O’Brien said.
When asked for a response to the new allegations, a spokesperson for the Ken-Ton school district referred us to the same statement the district released after the initial round of lawsuits were filed.
It says: The Ken-Ton School District is aware of serious and concerning allegations regarding conduct by former members of the district staff at the time of their employment approximately 40 years ago. The district has been committed to taking any and all action within the scope of its authority to appropriately respond to the allegations and has been in communication with the appropriate state authorities regarding this matter. The Ken-Ton School District takes any allegations of misconduct by staff extremely seriously regardless of how much time may have passed or whether the employee is or is not currently employed by the district.”
Werner could not be reached for comment.
O’Brien did not say specifically when he would be filing additional lawsuits. However he noted he was out of town Monday speaking with with one alleged victim, and said had he been in town Monday, he likely would have filed more complaints on Tuesday.
The lawsuits are possible as a result of the New York State Child Victims Act, which waives the civil statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases until next August.