A man who says he endured repeat episodes of sexual abuse while in the seventh grade has filed a lawsuit against the Salamanca City School District and a former teacher who did prison time for abuse.
Douglas Woodin of Cattaraugus County says in the lawsuit that teacher Michael J. DuPont targeted him during the 2002-03 school year because Woodin was a loner, came from a one-parent home and had few friends as a result of his Tourette's syndrome.
In time, the teacher was showing him pornography, making sexual advances and having sexual contact with the boy, all on school grounds, the lawsuit alleges.
DuPont "took every opportunity" to sexually abuse the child, the lawsuit says, and even obtained his mother's permission to take him on a field trip to a paintball range. But Woodin turned out to be the only student on the trip, and the abuse continued amid the "unfettered privacy" of a paintball range owned by DuPont's family, the lawsuit says.
Cattaraugus County sheriff's deputies charged DuPont with sex crimes in 2008 and said that while the accusations involved one 14-year-old boy, there had been other victims and deputies wanted to talk to them. Woodin was one of the victims interviewed, said Hillary Nappi, an attorney with the New York City law firm that filed Woodin's Child Victims Act lawsuit.
DuPont in 2009 was sentenced to up to 14 years in prison. He was paroled in November 2018 and now lives as a registered sex offender in Little Valley.
When DuPont was sentenced, Undersheriff Timothy S. Whitcomb said that as victims came forth to tell their stories "it was like a bomb going off in the community. No one would believe it could happen."
Whitcomb said at the time that the cooperation of school officials made the investigation easier. Larry Whitcomb, his brother, was principal of the middle school where DuPont worked as a science teacher.
School officials did not explain at the time how DuPont was able to abuse his students for so long before his arrest. In recent days, a new school district administration issued a statement saying no present-day school board member or administrator was serving in those capacities when the abuse occurred.
The district, while refusing to comment on the lawsuit, said "policies and programs have been put in place to protect all students and individuals while they are in our care. We will continue to remain vigilant in our efforts in that regard."
Story topics: Child Victims Act