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Sexual abuse lawsuit filed against GESD

Case dates back to Estee School in the 1980s

GLOVERSVILLE — Allegations of sexual abuse dating back to the 1980s have resulted in the filing of a lawsuit against the Gloversville Enlarged School District and a former teacher under the state’s Child Victims Act.

The civil lawsuit filed in the Fulton County Clerk’s Office on Jan. 6 on behalf of the plaintiff, identified as John Doe, by attorney Pamela Nichols of O’Connell and Aronowitz Law Firm of Albany names the Gloversville Enlarged School District and former teacher Bryan Buchanan as defendants. The case will be heard in Fulton County Supreme Court.

The lawsuit states that the plaintiff attended the Estee School, formerly the middle school, around 1981 to 1983 and was a minor when Buchanan, then a teacher employed by the district, engaged in unpermitted sexual contact with the individual.

The lawsuit was filed under the Child Victims Act which lifted the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse to commence civil court action for one year beginning on Aug. 14, 2019.

The suit alleges that the school district “should have know that Buchanan was a threat to children and the plaintiff” and “breached its duty to [the] plaintiff by actively maintaining and employing Buchanan in a position of power and authority through which Buchanan had access to children.”

The Leader-Herald in 1984 published an article stating that Buchanan was suspended by the school district on Aug. 9 pending the outcome of a special hearing as required by state education law following complaints from parents that he allegedly approached two male students during a summer school class seeking to measure their sexual organs. The students told their parents who filed formal complaints against Buchanan.

Following the complaints, Buchanan was escorted out of the school building by members of the Gloversville Police Department and gave a statement at the station, according to an unidentified source.

After the incident was reported, the school district received additional complaints against Buchanan from parents and in ordering his suspension accused the teacher of nine separate counts of conduct unbecoming of a teacher and endangerment of a minor child stemming from nine separate incidents. The summer school incident accounted for two of the counts. It is unclear if Buchanan ever faced criminal charges in connection to the alleged incidents.

Last week’s court filing claims that the school district failed to implement proper policies and procedures to prevent child sex abuse and ensure child safety.

The suit goes on to list as causes of action against the school district; negligence, negligent hiring, negligent training and supervision, negligent retention and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The suit lists causes of action against Buchanan as assault and battery, emotional distress and false imprisonment.

The plaintiff is seeking “substantial punitive” damages in an unspecified amount against the school district and Buchanan either jointly or severally after sustaining what are described as physical, emotional and psychological injuries as a result of the incident.

In response to a request for comment Tuesday, GESD Superintendent David Halloran stated, “The district is aware of the lawsuit. We are reviewing this matter, which is alleged to have occurred nearly 30 years ago. Our review of the information available shows that the district acted promptly and appropriately at the time. The alleged incident involves a former student and is the subject of pending litigation which prohibits me from further comment on the allegations or the lawsuit.”

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