Woman Sues School Over Sexual Assault
May 21, 2008
Daniel Tepfer, Connecticut Post
BRIDGEPORT – A young Westport woman is suing school officials in that town, claiming not only did they fail to protect her from sexual assault by a Milford man, but allowed him to remain a high school teacher despite prior complaints.
In the lawsuit, filed in Superior Court here Tuesday, the woman, now 22, is seeking unspecified damages against the Westport Board of Education, its former school officials, Supt. Elliott Landon and Principal John Brady, as well as the former teacher, Peter Eramo Jr., of Milford.
Neither school nor town officials returned calls for comment on the lawsuit.
In October 2004, Eramo was arrested on a second-degree sexual assault charge after authorities said he had sex with the girl when she was a junior at Staples High School.
The criminal case against him is pending in Milford Superior Court. Eramo’s next court date on that case is June 9. He is free on $10,000 bond.
“This is a case where a parent gave a clear warning to the school about a predator and nothing was done,” said the woman’s lawyer, Cindy Robinson. “Mr. Eramo was new to the school system and a new teacher, and clearly no one in the Westport school system was supervising him or protecting the students from him.”
Robinson, of the Bridgeport law firm Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney, previously represented dozens of people who successfully sued the Diocese of Bridgeport after allegedly being abused by former Roman Catholic priests.
According to police, in May 2003, Eramo, a theater teacher at Staples High School, brought the then-17-year-old female student to a jazz club in New York City and plied her with alcohol before driving her to his apartment near Walnut Beach. He then undressed her before having sex with her on his couch, police said.
Prior to the assault, Robinson said, the victim’s mother had complained to school officials about Eramo acting improperly with her daughter, including that Eramo was doing a play with the victim that only involved the two of them and concerned an inappropriate relationship.
In March 2003 Eramo had tendered his resignation to the school, but was actively teaching there, Robinson said. She presented school documents that show Eramo was, in fact, kept on as a teacher at the school until June 2003, following another complaint against him by a female student.
Eramo subsequently went on to teach drama at Lindenhurst High School in Lindenhurst, N.Y.
“It is extremely disturbing that a high school teacher can be terminated for inappropriate behavior with students from one school system, only to find similar employment at another school where he could again potentially prey on adolescent girls,” Robinson said. “Hopefully, my client’s courage in coming forward has prevented other assaults.”