Counselors sued in teacher’s aide sex case

By Daniel Tepfer

BRIDGEPORT - The family of a 15-year-old boy who was sexually assaulted by a Stratford teacher's aide claims the youth's counselors knew about the assaults but did not report them.

Two separate lawsuits filed in Superior Court in Bridgeport claim counselors at The Boys & Girls Village in Milford and The Children's Center of Hamden violated state law mandating the reporting of sexual assaults against children, and that they failed to provide proper care to the youth.

In one instance, the lawsuits claim staff members at the Hamden center took the youth on outings so that they could "check out," the teacher's aide, Kyle Damato-Kushel.

"It is so very important for adults, when they have reason to suspect that a child is being sexually abused ... pick up the phone and call law enforcement," said Douglas Mahoney, who represents the youth's family. "Teachers, counselors, and psychiatrists are not trained investigators. These types of professionals have an absolute duty under our laws to make the report any time they have reason to believe a child is being sexually abused by an adult."

Lawyers representing The Boys & Girls Village and The Children's Center of Hamden did not return calls for comment.

Earlier this month, Damoto-Kushel, who pleaded guilty in the criminal case to second-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a child, was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Damato-Kushel, 48, who worked at Wooster Middle School in Stratford and had been the boy's preschool teacher, was accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting the youth since the summer of 2013, when he was in seventh grade.

The abuse was discovered in 2015 by Damato-Kushel's husband, who awoke to hear voices in their Overland Drive, Stratford, home and fearing it was a burglary, called police.

Police said Damato-Kushel offered the boy $900 if he wouldn't reveal their relationship.

The lawsuits state that the youth received mental health treatment at the Boys & Girls Village from July 7, 2014, through Jan. 6, 2015, and underwent in-patient care with the Hamden center from June 16, 2015, through Aug. 3, 2015.

The lawsuits claim that the youth's mother told counselors at the Boys & Girls Village she believed her son was engaged in sexual activity with an adult and that the youth, on multiple occasions, told counselors at the Hamden center that he was having sex with an adult woman. But the counselors at both locations did not report the incidents, despite being mandated reporters, the suit claims.

Original Article: https://www.nhregister.com/local/article/Counselors-sued-in-teacher-s-aide-sex-case-12863602.php