Four suits with allegations of sex abuse filed against the Kenmore Tonawanda School District alleging a retired Kenmore Tonawanda teacher, Arthur F. Werner, repeatedly molested young boys at Herbert Hoover Elementary School in the early 1970s.
BUFFALO NY (THE BUFFALO NEWS) Four lawsuits were filed Friday under the Child Victims Act, alleging that a retired Kenmore Tonawanda teacher repeatedly molested young boys, often in front of an entire room of classmates.
The lawsuits filed by four Buffalo-area men all name the Kenmore Tonawanda School District as the defendant, saying district officials either knew or should have known that social studies teacher Arthur F. Werner repeatedly molested boys at Herbert Hoover Elementary School in the early 1970s.
Werner, who is in his 80s and retired since 1993, could not be reached for comment Friday. A publicly listed telephone number for him is no longer in service. No one responded at his Town of Tonawanda home when a reporter knocked on the doors and rang doorbells.
A school district spokesman, Patrick Fanelli, said the district has been aware of one complaint against Werner for about a year and checked into it. The official also said the school district investigated to verify that Werner was no longer working with children, spoke with law enforcement and learned that the complaint was too dated to pursue a criminal complaint. Fanelli said the school district officially notified the state Education Department about the complaint against Werner.
None of the alleged victims is identified by name in the lawsuits.
One of the lawsuits charged that a client identified as OF DOE 3 was repeatedly molested and repeatedly watched other boys being molested by Werner when he was a fifth-grader at Hoover in the 1973-74 school year.
“He was regularly and repeatedly sexually assaulted, abused, groomed and/or groped by … fifth grade teacher Arthur Werner,” the lawsuit alleges. “Further, OF DOE 3 was forced to watch Arthur Werner regularly and repeatedly sexually assault other boys in this classroom. … As a result of the foregoing, OF DOE 3 sustained pain, suffering and emotional, mental and psychological injuries inflicted on him through no fault of his own.”
The lawsuits accuse the school district of “negligence, carelessness, lack of supervision and lack of appropriate policies.”
One of the accusers, a 57-year-old Buffalo-area businessman, spoke to The News on the condition that his name would not be published.
He alleged that Werner “would call you up to the front of his classroom, on the pretense of disciplining you for something.”
“He would put me on his lap and fondle my private parts, or he would fondle me as I stood there in front of the classroom,” the man said. He alleged that this happened to him at least six times. “Sometimes, while he was touching you, he would whisper in your ear, ‘I’m sorry I yelled at you. I’m sorry I punished you. I apologize.’ ”
On one occasion, the man said, a female art teacher walked into the classroom while Werner had the student on his lap and was molesting him.
“He just talked to this art teacher like nothing was wrong while he was rubbing my stomach and touching the front of my pants,” the man said. “She had to see what was going on.”
On another occasion, the man alleged, Werner molested him after asking him to come to the classroom after school to work on a model of a cave that was being built in the classroom.
The man said he has been “scarred for life” by what Werner did to him.
“I’ve never been able to have a normal relationship, even with myself,” the man said. “I’ve been married, divorced and several relationships with women ended badly. Every single night of my life, I have trouble sleeping. This experience I went through has been a constant companion to me for more than 45 years.”
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“No child is a match for a seasoned pedophile,” said nationally recognized sex abuse attorney Jeff Herman.
“Everyone thinks a predator is an evil-looking person who hates kids,” Herman said. But the reality is far from it. “A real sexual predator, in their mind, loves kids,” Herman said of his experience pursuing these cases. “You see their loving side in public,” which can cause many to doubt allegations.
“Children become groomed and compliant for what’s going on.” Herman explained. “Until they see someone else come forward many victims suffer in silence, especially children.” A pedophile masquerading as a teacher is an unfortunately common ruse to access kids and we must teach institutions to recognize red flags and act swiftly in order to address and prevent this from happening again in the future.
For many, “The civil case is the only measure of justice that’s available,” Herman said. However, pursuing a civil lawsuits “plays an important role in the healing process” explained Herman. Pursuing a civil case can be empowering for the victim, as their voice is heard and they no longer have to suffer alone in silence.
If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual abuse, Herman Law may be able to help you achieve justice. Jeff Herman is a trailblazer in the representation of victims of sexual abuse, devoting 100% of his practice to the cause. Renowned for his aggressive and tireless advocacy on behalf of his clients, and his determination to help his clients heal through the litigation process, Jeff understands the unique issues involved in the representation of survivors of rape and sexual abuse.
Jeff Herman and his team only handle sexual abuse cases and have represented over 1,000 victims since 1997. The firm offers free consultations and works on a contingency basis. Now is the time to reach out, seek justice and begin to heal.
Please contact us today to discuss your options.