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Former Teacher With Prior Conviction Named In Suit

The Salamanca City Central School District and a former teacher with a prior criminal conviction for sexually abusing at least two students have been sued under the state’s Child Victims Act.

One of the former Salamanca City Central School students filed the lawsuit against the district and former teacher Michael DuPont on Tuesday in state Supreme Court in Cattaraugus County. DuPont was sentenced in 2009 to serve up to 14 years in prison after he was convicted of two counts second-degree sodomy and two counts of disseminating indecent materials to minors.

One incident occurred in the classroom around Feb. 1, 2002, and the other in May 2002 at the home of DuPont’s parents in the town of Salamanca. Victims of the indecent materials charges were two boys, ages 12 and 13, according to reports, when DuPont showed the youths indecent materials on his computer at Salamanca Middle School. In addition to a prison sentence, fines and court costs, DuPont was forced to surrender his teaching license and is currently on the New York state Sex Offenders Registry.

According to the lawsuit, the victim was placed in a special education program because of his behaviors relating to Tourette’s syndrome and was later placed on in-house suspension because he failed to control his Tourette’s-related tick. The former student’s attorney, Hillary Nappie of Hach, Rose, Schirripa and Cheverie LLP, alleges her client was the only student serving in-school suspension early in the 2002-03 school year, with DuPont the teacher in charge of the room.

“As a Salamanca Middle/High School teacher, DuPont developed a questionnaire at the beginning of the school year to determine the backgrounds of students and learn such things as whether the children came from broken or single-parent homes,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff fit the stereotype of students DuPont preyed upon. (The student) was ostracized from other students and had no friends. Indeed, (the student) was bullied as a result of his Tourette’s syndrome. (The student) also came from a single parent home. Dupont was aware of his status as an outcast within the school and that (the student) came from a single parent home. In or around the early part of the 2002-03 school year, DuPont reached out to (the student) and began his campaign to manipulate (him) and earn his trust.”

According to the lawsuit, DuPont told the former student that the teacher would help him make new friends. The two began talking and, the lawsuit alleges, eventually DuPont began giving the boy special privileges and favoritism in the classroom, giving him home-made CDs with his favorite music on them, allowed him to sit at DuPont’s desk and play games on the school laptop.

Eventually, the lawsuit states, DuPont would show pornography featuring boys engaged in sexual acts while DuPont taught class. That behavior, the lawsuit alleges, led to DuPont allegedly touching the boy sexually in the classroom on a regular basis and then sexually assaulting him several times in and around Salamanca Middle/High School, including in classrooms and sometimes in the back room of DuPont’s science classroom. The lawsuit alleges DuPont created a fake permission slip for a field trip and said he was taking several students to the Gotcha Paintball range on a weekend. The lawsuit alleges no other students went on the trip, during which DuPont allegedly sexually assaulted the student for several hours.

“Plaintiff’s sexual abuse at the hands of DuPont continued for a year until (the student) reached eighth grade,” the lawsuit alleges. “At no time in the year of forced sexual activity described herein did (the student) provide consent to engage in these acts with DuPont. At no time in the year of forced sexual activity described herein could (the student) legally provide his consent to engage in these acts with DuPont. … Upon information and belief, DuPont sexually abused other students at Salamanca Middle/High School around the same age as (the boy). … As a result of DuPont’s illegal acts against (the student) and other students at Salamanca Middle/High School, DuPont was arrested.”

The lawsuit states the school district should be liable for DuPont’s conduct because of prior instances of similar conduct by DuPont and other school employees as well as the district’s alleged failure to respond given that there were allegedly prior known instances of such conduct by DuPont. The lawsuit also alleges the district didn’t provide adequate security to the boy while he was on school grounds given the district’s alleged knowledge of DuPont’s prior behavior.

The school district was not available for comment.

“As a consequence, defendant (Salamanca City Central School District) was in the best position to prevent DuPont’s sexual abuse of (the student), to learn of that sexual abuse … and stop it, and to take prompt steps to provide that (the student) received timely therapy to address the harm … suffered resulting from DuPont’s sexual abuse. … Such prompt steps would have mitigated the extent of lifetime suffering (the former student) has had to endure.”

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