Former Smallwood Elementary School teacher Trent Hariaczyi pleaded guilty in 2005 to possessing child pornography and served 18 months in federal prison.
Surge in filings pushes Child Victims Act suits in WNY past 700 in a year
Now, a local man who was a Smallwood student from 1994 to 2000 is alleging Hariaczyi molested him, and the Amherst Central School District allowed it to happen.
The man, now in his early 30s, sued the district in July, more than 20 years after the alleged abuse.
“He’s just broken over this,” said the man’s lawyer, Paul Barr.
The Amherst district superintendent’s office on Friday emailed a statement that said the district became aware last week of “troubling allegations” regarding the conduct of a former district employee. “The former employee at issue left the district in 2002,” the statement said. “The district is undertaking all appropriate steps in response to this information.
The case against Amherst schools is among at least 720 lawsuits in Western New York filed since last August under the Child Victims Act, including a surge of more than 200 cases filed since July 24.
Statewide, about 3,800 CVA cases have been filed since last August. New York County Supreme Court so far has received the most CVA filings in the state, with 851, according to the Office of Court Administration. Erie County had the second most filings, with 636.
Most of the filings allege abuse by Catholic priests, scout leaders and teachers, although a handful of suits accuse family members, doctors and law enforcement. Just within the past two weeks, new CVA suits have targeted the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, Amherst Youth Hockey and Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Erie, Niagara and the Southern Tier.
The Buffalo Diocese has been named as a defendant in at least 263 CVA suits in Western New York, making it the region’s most sued entity, even though lawsuits against the diocese mostly have stopped since it filed in February for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Other Catholic entities, such as parishes and schools, continue to be named as defendants in many lawsuits.
A Buffalo News analysis of CVA lawsuits in Western New York found at least 43 suits against the Greater Niagara Frontier Council, a local chapter of the Boy Scouts. The national Boy Scouts of America is a defendant in 21 lawsuits that were brought before the organization’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in February.
The News also found:
At least 41 suits name the Kenmore-Tonawanda school district as a defendant, the most of any district.
At least a dozen suits were filed against the Buffalo City School District.
At least 11 suits were filed against the Niagara Falls City School District.
At least 35 suits name Arthur Werner, a retired Kenmore-Tonawanda teacher, as the alleged abuser. He is the most-accused person in WNY.
At least 20 suits name the Rev. Donald Becker as the alleged abuser. He is the most-accused Catholic priest, followed by the Rev. Fred Fingerle, named in 18 suits and the Rev. Norbert Orsolits, named in 16 suits.
At least 12 suits name Ro...