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Sex crime victim sues NCCC over ex-president calling her 'dumb'

Although James P. Klyczek resigned as president of Niagara County Community College almost three months ago, his legacy – in the form of unguarded comments surreptitiously recorded by colleagues – lives on.

A 48-year-old Lewiston woman who told police she was sexually assaulted on the college's Sanborn campus, has sued Klyczek and the college, accusing them of defaming her and causing emotional distress.

The lawsuit cites the recordings of Klyczek first broadcast by WKBW-TV in April, in which he ridiculed the woman as "stupid" and "dumb."

The woman, whose name has not been published, also seeks damages from her alleged attacker, DeJuan L. Hunt II – or, rather, his estate, since Hunt died in the Niagara County Jail Aug. 29. He was 25.

According to the lawsuit, the woman was sitting in NCCC's "Learning Commons," Room 218 of Building G, on July 19, 2016, when a man later identified as Hunt sat down next to her, said he was a new student, and asked her to give him a short tour of the campus.

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The woman did so, and during the tour, Hunt sexually assaulted her. Hunt was later apprehended and also was charged with a second sexual assault at NCCC on Aug. 3.

Klyczek's comments during an August meeting were recorded and leaked to reporters.

"What is she, stupid?" Klyczek asked. "I mean no, seriously. Make us the guilty party because you're too stupid to follow your instinct that this guy sits down next to you and there's nobody else around, you agree to take him on a tour. That is as dumb as can be."

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Klyczek also commented about the woman, "Her daughter should be worried, because if she's got her mother's genes, she's dumber than a doorknob."

Klyczek has disconnected his former phone numbers and could not be reached Friday. Vincent R. Ginestre, the North Tonawanda attorney who is chairman of the NCCC Board of Trustees, learned of the lawsuit from a reporter and declined to comment on it.

The woman's name never has been published. But Shawn W. Carey, the Grand Island attorney who filed the lawsuit on her behalf said: "I think the proof will show that within her community, and those related to (her), there was no question who was being referred to."

Carey said he has no damage figure in mind, and he still needs to jump through some legal hoops to get the case to trial. He said the state could be liable for negligence in allowing Hunt on campus, so permission from the Court of Claims is needed to file a case against the state.

"The initial information was that this was the state's responsibility, and its employees," Carey said. "It was avoidable by the actors at NCCC ... and then she was victimized again by Mr. Klyczek's statements."

The revelation of the recorded comments destroyed Klyczek's support on the college's Board of Trustees, which had been split on the question of whether Klyczek should be placed on leave because of a federal investigation of contracts awarded in 2011 for construction and legal services on the NCCC Culinary Institute in Niagara Falls.

The college turned over a large supply of documents in response to a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney's Office, but so far no charges have been filed.

After the tapes of Klyczek's remarks about the sexual assault victim were made public, Klyczek resigned April 26, hours before a special board meeting where he would have been fired. The board has yet to name a successor.

The lawsuit was filed last week, one day before the first anniversary of the first assault, when the statute of limitations would have run out. It does not specify a monetary damage demand either from NCCC or from Hunt's estate.

Jenine M. Townsend, Hunt's mother, said her son was on disability and left no estate.

Townsend has hired an attorney to pursue a possible suit against the county over Hunt's death, ruled a homicide by the Erie County Medical Examiner's Office.

It concluded he died of a rare condition called rhabdomyalysis, which destroys muscle fiber and damages the kidneys. Small marks were found on Hunt's shins, nine days after a corrections officer reportedly pressed a baton against Hunt's shins to subdue him in his cell. The medical examiner's report said those injuries might have triggered the syndrome.

Hunt was on suicide watch because of threats to kill himself, and had taken off a restraining vest he was supposed to be wearing. A struggle occurred when Hunt reportedly refused an order to put the vest back on.

The Niagara County District Attorney's Office reviewed the death but decided no charges were warranted.

 

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