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December 2, 2016
By Pat Tomlinson, The Hour.
WILTON — A second Wilton family has come forward in a lawsuit against the town and its Board of Education with sexual assault allegations against former Wilton preschool paraprofessional Eric Von Kohorn.
The family claims that the incident occurred in 2013-14, when their child was attending preschool at the Miller-Driscoll School, where Von Kohorn worked for nearly seven years before being arrested by Connecticut State Police in 2014 for sexual assault against a female student.
For the original incident, Von Kohorn was charged with first-degree possession of child pornography and promoting a minor in an obscene performance. He later pleaded guilty to illegal possession of child pornography and was sentenced in 2015 to six years in prison, suspended after two years served, and 10 years probation.
Paul Slager and Michael Kennedy of Stamford’s Silver Golub & Teitell LLP, who represent the family, are the same attorneys who represent the family of a female student whose parents sued the town of Wilton and the Wilton Board of Education in 2015.
According to a statement issued by Slager, the most recent lawsuit alleges that Von Kohorn took a 4- or 5-year-old boy into a deserted Miller-Driscoll bathroom and photographed him in the bathroom stall while the child’s pants were down.
The family does not know what Von Kohorn did with the images or whether the images were distributed, which, according to Slager, is a source of considerable distress for the family.
The complainant argues that the Wilton Board of Education and the town showed negligence in allowing Von Kohorn to go back to work after a small investigation into the first incident, which in turn allowed the paraprofessional to allegedly perpetrate similar crimes on the second victim.
In January 2013, Wilton Board of Education staff members received a report from the parents of a female Miller-Driscoll preschool student — the student whose family brought the first lawsuit against Wilton related to Von Kohorn — that she had reported being sexually assaulted by Von Kohorn in a school bathroom.
The girl’s family claimed that Von Kohorn had inappropriately sexually assaulted her by forcefully wiping her after she went to the bathroom, although she was completely toilet trained and did not require assistance toileting.
During the school’s investigation, Von Kohorn initially denied taking the girl alone into the bathroom, and then, in a second interview, admitted he had lied during the first interview and that he actually had taken the girl alone into the bathroom, despite the fact she did not require assistance toileting.
Miller Driscoll’s preschool director, Fred Rapczynski, notified the Human Resources Department of the Wilton Board of Education of these facts after receiving the report from the parents and interviewing Von Kohorn.
Rapczynski also reported the incidents to the Department of Child and Family Services (DCF), including the fact that his own investigation “did not support the girl’s claims,” after which DCF made Rapczynksi aware that the DCF would not be performing its own investigation into the matter based on Rapczynski’s report.
The Board of Education performed no further investigation of its own into the alleged sexual abuse of the female student and did not discipline, suspend or reprimand Von Kohorn in any way, despite his violation of strict policies that prohibited him from taking female preschool students into the bathroom alone and unaccompanied by others, the lawsuit alleges.
The Board of Education instead removed Von Kohorn from the girl’s classroom and then placed him into another classroom where he continued to work directly with other Miller-Driscoll preschool students, including the boy in the current case, according to the complaint.
The complaint further alleges that the boy — the plaintiff in the current lawsuit — was a student in the preschool class to which Von Kohorn was reassigned. After Von Kohorn began working in the boy’s classroom, the case says, Von Kohorn took the boy alone to the bathroom, where he photographed him with his pants down.
In closing, the complaint stated that the school “failed to evaluate whether Von Kohorn posed a threat to students after learning of the report of sexual assault, before allowing him contact with students.”
The plaintiff does not specify the amount of damages sought in the case.
First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice said that while she is aware of the filing, the matter has been turned over to the town’s insurance company for handling.
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