Boys & Girls Village ordered to pay $1.2 million for failing to report abuse
BRIDGEPORT — A jury on Monday found that counselors at the Boys and Girls Village in Milford failed to report to authorities that a 15-year-old boy was sexually assaulted by a Stratford teacher’s aide and ordered the non-profit organization to pay $1.2 million to his mother.
The jury of four women and two men deliberated two days before finding Boy’s and Girls Village breached its legal duty to the boy when it failed to report to the state Department of Children and Families that he was being abused by Kyle Damato-Kushel.
Damato-Kushel is serving 18 months in prison after she pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a child.
With interest, the total verdict will exceed $1.4 million.
“The lesson here is report, report, report, even if you aren’t totally sure what happened because now this boy is going to be affected for the rest of his life,” said juror Elizabeth Kipp, a Stratford nurse.
“Hopefully this verdict sends a message to people who are mandated reporters in Connecticut. When people such as the therapist and psychiatrist in this case are told that a child is being sexually abused, they must and should report it. This verdict sends that message loud and clearly,” said Douglas Mahoney, who with Cindy Robinson represented the boy’s mother.
Mohn Sreenvasan, who represented Boys and Girls Village, declined comment on the verdict.
Damato-Kushel, 48, who worked at Wooster Middle School in Stratford and had been the boy’s preschool teacher, was accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting the youth since the summer of 2013, when he was in seventh grade.
The abuse was discovered in 2015 by Damato-Kushel’s husband, who awoke to hear voices in their Overland Drive, Stratford, home and fearing it was a burglary, called police.
Police said Damato-Kushel offered the boy $900 if he wouldn’t reveal their relationship.
During the month-long civil trial before Superior Court Judge Michael Kamp, Damato-Kushel testified that she takes responsibility for the relationship between her and the now 19-year-old youth. But she claimed he later became aggressive when she refused to continue having sex with him and threatened to assault her and to tell her husband.
Damato-Kushel is still married but is barred from having contact with her children.
The lawsuits states that the youth received mental health treatment at the Boys and Girls Village from July 7, 2014, through Jan. 6, 2015.
The boy’s mother complained to both a therapist and a psychiatrist associated with Boys and Girl’s Village that she thought her son and Damato-Kushel were having an inappropriate relationship, according to trial testimony.
The staff of Boys and Girl’s Village held a meeting to discuss the mother’s complaints but decided not to report them to the state Department of Children and Families.
“Because of the failure of Boys and Girls Village to report, the sexual abuse of this boy by his former teacher was allowed to continue for over a year,” said Cindy Robinson. “If Boys and Girls Village had reported the mother’s suspicions, this would have stopped.”