Schenectady County

Family claims daughter barred from school over abuse claim

The family of a teenage girl is suing the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese, Bishop Gibbons High School

The family of a teenage girl is suing the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese, Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School and a former Republican Party chairman, claiming the diocese and school barred the girl from attending 11th grade last September because she brought sexual abuse charges against Armando Tebano.

The family is asking for $2 million, according to civil papers filed in state Supreme Court in Schenectady County.

John A. Aretakis, the family’s attorney, alleges in court papers that the diocese and school were negligent by preventing the girl from attending Bishop Gibbons and that they retaliated and punished her for going to law enforcement authorities with charges against Tebano.

The lawsuit further alleges that Tebano sexually abused the girl, stalked her and sexually exploited her.

At the time of the alleged abuse, Tebano was chairman of the city and county Republican committees and the Republican commissioner of elections for Schenectady County.

Tebano admitted in Schenectady City Court in February 2007 to a violation harassment charge, heading off a high-profile trial on charges he inappropriately touched the then-14-year-old girl. He admitted only to having “physical contact” with the girl.

In return for his guilty plea, Tebano received 250 hours of community service and was ordered to give a DNA sample — unusual for a violation plea — and undergo a psychological evaluation. Aretakis said Tebano received preferential treatment in court because he is married to Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago.

“We vehemently deny all the wrongful allegations in this matter and we look forward to a trial where the truth will come to light,” said Tebano’s attorney, Joshua Farrell.

No trial date has been set in this case. Aretakis said the diocese is trying to sever itself from the lawsuit, but diocese spokesman Ken Goldfarb would not discuss specifics of the case.

“We are responding to this matter in the courts and will let the courts sort it out,” Goldfarb said. “We are confident this will work out the way it is supposed to.”

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