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Shenendehowa named in child sex abuse lawsuit

Shenendehowa named in child sex abuse lawsuit

Alleged incidents happened decades ago
Shenendehowa named in child sex abuse lawsuit
Photographer: Gazette File Photo

CLIFTON PARK -- A former elementary school teacher at the Shenendehowa Central School District is accused of having sexually abused a student decades ago in a recently filed Child Victims Act lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed in Saratoga County Court on Nov. 25, alleges that a former teacher at Tesago Elementary School, Richard M. Tebbano, abused an unnamed student who was identified in the complaint as John Doe.

The Child Victims Act, passed by the state Legislature, extended the statute of limitations on sex crimes, opening up a one-time, one-year window in which victims of older abuse cases can sue their alleged abusers in state Supreme Court.

According to the complaint, from 1977 to 1984, when John Doe was 10 to 17 years old, Tebbano engaged in "unpermitted sexual contact with the plaintiff."

"Defendant Shenendehowa knew or should have known that Tebbano was a danger to children, and the plaintiff," reads the complaint filed by the Albany-based law firm of O’Connell & Aronowitz.

The complaint also touched on how the alleged abuse has continued to cast a pall over the life of the plaintiff.

"As a direct result of Defendant Shenendehowa's negligence, Plaintiff has suffered, and will continue to suffer, great pain of mind and body, severe and permanent emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, humiliation and/or physical, personal and psychological injuries," the complaint read.

Exact details of the abuse were not included in the complaint. John Doe, the complaint says, is seeking a "substantial amount of punitive damages to be determined at trial."

On Tuesday, the school district said it had not received the complaint.

"We have yet to receive any such notice. If or when we do, the matter shall be investigated thoroughly and acted up accordingly pursuant to applicable laws," district spokeswoman Kelly DeFeciani said in a released statement.

Phone calls on Tuesday to a number connected to Tebbano went unanswered, but the number indicated that he no longer lives in New York state. According to SeeThroughNY, Tebbano retired from the district in April 2009, and has collected a yearly pension of approximately $64,000.

This is the first Child Victims Act lawsuit that has been filed in Saratoga County. In August, in one of the two dozen Child Victims' Act cases filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, a one-time Schenectady priest was accused of secretly living with a woman and sexually abusing her children.

Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons School in Schenectady was also named in at least 10 such lawsuits alleging the institution and the Albany Diocese failed to protect children from abuse at the hands of Catholic brothers working there in the 1970s.

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