A former Amherst High School student has sued the Amherst Central School District, alleging she was sexually abused by a guidance counselor who later became the school’s dean of students.
The lawsuit names John “Jack” Koch as the abuser.
Koch, a teacher’s aide at the time whom the district allowed to work as a guidance counselor, sexually abused the girl for about two years, beginning when she was 14, according to the lawsuit.
Koch retired in 2007 as dean of students at the high school following a 35-year career there, according to a story published by the Amherst Bee. In 2012, the Amherst Central Alumni Foundation gave him an educator emeritus award because of his “demonstrated excellence and a high level of commitment in service” to students.
"Mr. Koch denies these false allegations and will vigorously defend his reputation," attorney Sara A. Johnson of New Orleans said in an email to The Buffalo News.
Koch, who now lives in Canisteo with his wife, who also retired from the district, did not respond Monday to a message from The Buffalo News.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiff alleges Koch began sexually abusing her around 1981 when she was in ninth grade and sought counseling from him because she had been sexually assaulted by someone else. He told the girl he could give her lessons in sex so she could be a better sexual partner and enjoy sex more, according to the suit.
Afterward, Koch had unpermitted sexual contact with the plaintiff on the school grounds and elsewhere, and he threatened to do harm to her family if she told anyone, the lawsuit says.
The Amherst Central School District issued a statement about the lawsuit.
“The Amherst Central School District was made aware of troubling allegations regarding the conduct of a former District employee occurring more than 35 years ago. The former employee at issue retired from the District more than 10 years ago,” the statement said. “The District is undertaking all appropriate steps in response to this information. The District has no higher priority than ensuring the safety and welfare of the District’s students, and is confident in the policies and procedures that are currently in place to protect the District’s students.”
Attorney Paul Barr, who represents the former student, said the abuse screwed up his client’s life. She did not finish high school, he said.
The plaintiff never told any school officials about the abuse but believes that teachers suspected she was having a relationship with Koch, Barr said.
Story topics: Child Victims Act