WXXI AM News

Lawsuit alleges abuse by former Brighton teacher and town employee

Oct 10, 2019

Two lawsuits have been filed against the Brighton School District, Brighton School Board and the Town of Brighton in connection with alleged abuse by an employee.

The suits were filed on behalf of two women, former students in the district who were also gymnasts, alleging that they were sexually abused when they were in the 7th and 9th grade in the 1970s.

The allegations were made involving former Council Rock Elementary School teacher and Town of Brighton gymnastics coach, Duncan Ververs.

Attorney Michael Dowd says the lawsuit alleges that Ververs abused the girls on hundreds of occasions, and that the various officials for the town and school district should have done a better job of protecting those students.

Dowd says the two girls did not initially report this abuse to officials, partly because they were ashamed.

“Shame, but also concern that nobody’s going to believe them, talking about in a very negative sense about a respected coach, and teacher,” Dowd said.

The lawsuit also says the two women sustained physical and psychological injuries, and Dowd says that covers a variety of problems, “…in terms of their ability to be a part of relationships, having trust in other people, suffering from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder; I mean, it really, in both cases, this abuse just devastated their lives.” The suit asks for damages, but no amount is specified yet.

The lawsuit is one of many filed under New York’s Child Victims Act, which gives a one-year window of opportunity for victims to seek civil action against their alleged abusers, by extending the statute of limitations.

The Brighton School District released this statement:

"The District has been apprised of this matter through the plaintiffs’ attorney. However, it has not, as of now, received formal notice of any lawsuit. As is the District’s practice, we cannot comment on matters regarding pending litigation, which we understand this now is.  The District remains committed to student well-being and works diligently for every child, every day in every way."

The Town of Brighton released this statement:

"The Town of Brighton has become aware of a lawsuit brought under the provisions of the Child Victims Act and based on acts alleged to have occurred over 40 years ago. The Town has not yet been served with this lawsuit, and we cannot comment on litigation of this nature. The Town of Brighton is committed to ensuring that all Town programs are safe and welcoming to all participants."

Duncan Ververs could not immediately be reached for comment.