The apparent recipient of a sexually degrading memo allegedly written by former city schools facilities director Steve Raucci has filed a lawsuit against the district, alleging the school district is responsible for harassment and embarrassment by Raucci.
Also, three others who have been trying to sue the district over alleged Raucci acts have filed formal notices appealing a judge’s ruling either barring or largely barring them from suing.
Raucci remains behind bars waiting for a decision on his appeal to be released on bail. Raucci has been held in jail since his arrest in February on charges that include terrorism and arson.
Barbara Tidball’s lawsuit was filed Nov. 13 against the city school district and follows a notice of claim filed in April.
In her suit, Tidball repeats claims she suffered a pattern of sexual harassment from Raucci, which she has said was reported repeatedly but ignored by district officials.
She states in the latest filing that from September 2007 until Raucci’s February 2009 arrest, Raucci sent her a “large and unending series of greeting cards, signed and unsigned memos, and communications of a sexual or quasi-sexual harassing nature.”
The communications, the suit reads, constituted improper direct and indirect sexual advances and threats to her employment status. The wording mirrored that of the original notice of claim.
Tidball’s husband, Mark Tidball, is also a plaintiff in the action.
The city of Schenectady is also named as a defendant. Paul Dwyer, attorney for the Tidballs, confirmed that was a procedural matter to ensure there are no links between Raucci and the city.
City officials have said they were unsure why they were served notice, stating there are no links between the city and school district.
Tidball was listed in May on a school district directory as an office assistant in the facilities department. She was appointed as a messenger on July 7, 2008, a date that coincides with a memo informing the recipient that she was the successful candidate for the position of messenger. The memo, allegedly written by Raucci, included sexist suggestions about how to dress and act in front of her supervisor.
The memo was released in March by the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office as part of a bid to keep Raucci behind bars pending trial. The name of the recipient was blacked out.
Raucci was been indicted on a host of charges after what authorities described as years of intimidation related to school district and union activities.
School officials have declined to comment on related suits. They could not be reached Wednesday.
In all, 11 people have filed or attempted to file suit against the district over Raucci’s alleged misconduct.
Two people, Laura Balogh and Ryan Rakoske, were denied permission last month to sue after the judge found they missed deadlines. Two others, Hal and Deborah Gray, saw most of their claims go the same way, with only allegations related to a February 2009 incident surviving.
Dwyer said Wednesday there are no similar issues in Tidball’s case.
Rakoske and the Grays filed notices appealing the rulings earlier this month. Balogh apparently has not filed a notice.
Raucci faces criminal charges of vandalism against all four, and of placing a bomb that failed at Balogh’s home in Schodack.
Raucci, 61, of Niskayuna, faces a 26-count indictment, accused of planting bombs, vandalizing homes and intimidating people to curry favor with higher-ups and solidify his power.
He is accused of placing incendiary devices at four homes around the Capital Region, among them Balogh’s. Two of the devices exploded. No one was injured. He is also accused of damaging the cars and homes of people who disagreed with him, slashing tires, damaging paint or damaging windshields. The Grays reported their car being vandalized five times.
District Attorney Robert Carney has so far succeeded in his efforts to keep Raucci behind bars pending trial.
Raucci has taken his effort for bail to the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court; his attorney argued his case Oct. 21. Arguments were moved up, so a ruling could be made as early as possible. The justices, however, have not issued a ruling.
Rulings are issued generally once each week, with this week’s rulings coming Wednesday; Raucci’s case was not among them.
Raucci’s criminal trial is not expected to begin until at least February.