BRIDGEPORT, Conn., July 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- For the third time in less than two years, a former student today filed a federal lawsuit describing unspeakable sexual abuse and molestation at Indian Mountain School in Lakeville, Conn.
The suit, filed by Matthew Bernstein of New York, NY, details horrific abuse he endured from 1980 to 1983 when, between the ages of 12 and 15, he attended the prestigious boarding school. Two similar suits were filed in 2015; all allege that the school failed and refused to stop teachers as well as the school's Headmaster from "predatory sexual assaults and pedophilia" inflicted on minor boys, "including fellatio, anal sex, sodomy, voyeurism, fondling and forced masturbation."
"The monstrous sexual abuse perpetrated by the school and its nest of child molesters inflicted torture and suffering on Matthew that began when he was a defenseless, innocent little boy, and that continues to this day," said Bernstein's attorney, Antonio Ponvert III of the Bridgeport-based law firm Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder. "Like other Plaintiffs who filed complaints against the school last year, Matthew was subjected to sexual abuse and exploitation by the very adults who had pledged to protect him."
"The abuse began when Matthew was just 12 years old, in grade seven, and continued through grades eight and nine," Ponvert said. "For part of his eighth and ninth grade years, he was even assigned to live in the apartment of his primary abuser, English teacher Christopher Simonds."
The lawsuit, filed in federal court because the Plaintiff resides out of state, alleges that Simonds sexually abused, assaulted and exploited dozens of boys at the school for more than a decade, and that he took photographs of the boys to blackmail them into silence.
Photographs of Matthew engaged in explicit sexual acts were part of a collection of hundreds of photographs Simonds maintained, Ponvert said. "They depicted Matthew and other naked or partially-dressed children engaged in masturbation and other sex acts in various locations on the school campus," he said.
Ponvert added, "The photographs have yet to be recovered, and Matthew fears that they have been or will be published on kiddie porn sites and viewed by pedophiles around the world."
Simonds remained a teacher at the school despite the fact that the Headmaster, Peter Carlton, and several staff members knew of his pedophilia and continued molestation of children, and that they found hardcore child pornography in Simonds' possession, the lawsuit stated. Staff witnessed boys entering Simonds' apartment after lights out, and saw Simonds visiting the dormitories late at night. The school instituted a policy prohibiting faculty from visiting the boys after lights out, specifically to address Simonds' after-hours crimes, but he flouted the rule and continued his visits.
"Not one staff member, including the Headmaster, the Assistant Headmaster, the school's staff psychiatrist, the school's registered nurse, members of the school's Board of Trustees, and even the school's lawyer – ever complied with mandatory child sexual abuse reporting laws," Ponvert said, "nor did anyone ever report Simonds' possession of child pornography to the authorities, even though it clearly was against the law."
Simonds showed his victims graphic pornography, including explicit films and pictures of both adults and children engaged in sexual acts, and routinely gave them marijuana, alcohol, cigarettes, and even cocaine and LSD as part of the "grooming" process, both in an attempt to manipulate the boys and to blackmail them, the lawsuit said.
"During Matthew's ninth grade year, Simonds drove him to New York City for the purpose of buying cocaine and heroin," the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit goes on to detail the inappropriate behavior of Peter Carlton, the Headmaster, who on one occasion "rubbed cream all over Matthew's penis," ostensibly to treat jock itch. Carlton also "frequented the boys' showers, leered at Matthew and the other boys, and commented on their penises and pubic hair," the lawsuit said.
Another staff member at Indian Mountain, French teacher Windsor Copeland, was accused of assaults against boys as well. In sworn testimony, the school nurse testified that "Windsor Copeland had approximately the same relationship [as Simonds] in touching the students at his house," the lawsuit said.
"Indian Mountain was charged with the wellbeing of its students in their parents' absence," Ponvert said. "These were vulnerable children who, instead of being protected by the adults they relied on, were subjected to unfathomable abuse. Not one adult at this institution came to their rescue."
Indian Mountain School, in Lakeville, Conn., is a private boarding and day school for children in kindergarten through grade 9.
Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder has offices in Bridgeport, Danbury and New Haven. The nationally known law firm has achieved record verdicts for people who suffer serious personal injuries or economic harm from medical malpractice, violation of their civil or constitutional rights, dangerous products, negligence, drunk drivers, corporate or governmental abuse and commercial misconduct. www.koskoff.com.
SOURCE Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder