Share this article

print logo

Park School sued by former student who says teacher molested him

A former Park School of Buffalo student sued the private school this week, alleging a teacher there sexually assaulted him 39 years ago.

This is the first Child Victims Act lawsuit filed against the Park School, which 11 months ago issued an investigative report that said 12 of its former teachers had been credibly accused of inappropriate conduct with students.

Leonard “Tom” Adkins Jr., a teacher named in that report, was accused in the lawsuit filed Tuesday of having sexual contact with a 17-year-old student in 1980 without the student's consent.

The plaintiff was identified in the suit by a pseudonym, AB 505 Doe. The suit does not indicate where the alleged sexual contact occurred or how often.

The former student told an employee or agent of the school about the abuse shortly after it occurred, said attorney Leah Costanzo, who filed the suit along with attorney Steve Boyd.

Boyd said that they don't believe the school took any action in response.

"The abuse continued" with other victims, Costanzo said.

Editors' Picks

Carolyn Hoyt Stevens, the development officer at Park School, said Wednesday the school had no comment because it has not seen the lawsuit.

Adkins, an English teacher at Park School from about 1973 to 1986, was questioned in 2018 by the school's investigators from the Hodgson Russ law firm. He denied inappropriate conduct occurred with any students at his summer home in Vermont, but declined to talk about his relationship with specific students, according to the Park School report.

The report included allegations that Adkins molested several male students, showed a pornographic film to one and photographs of nude students to another, and played “naked croquet” with a third male student.

Child Victims Act (updated 2/13/20)

While serving as an adviser to one of the students, Adkins invited the boy to join a “special book club” made up of his favorite students, according to the report. He molested the student and told him that one of the qualifications for joining the book club was having his penis photographed and measured with a ruler.

While Park School was preparing its report last year, a representative interviewed the plaintiff about Adkins, Boyd said.

The Park School report, released Dec. 7, concluded that the school’s handling of misconduct allegations against teachers “demonstrate historical failures by the school to monitor faculty behavior and adequately protect students.”

The alleged wrongdoing by teachers, most of which occurred more than 25 years ago, ranged from making crude remarks about a female student’s breasts and teaching a class while inebriated to sexual molestation.

The school issued its report about 1 1/2 months before the New York State Legislature passed the Child Victims Act, which opened a one-year window for childhood victims of sexual abuse to file lawsuits against their abusers and the abusers' employers for conduct that occurred decades ago and had previously been barred by the state's statute of limitations.

After jarring Park School report, accusation against former headmaster emerges

Story topics:

There are no comments - be the first to comment