[VIDEO] Student Walkout Protesting Handling of Alleged Sexual Harassment at New Hartford HS
Students at New Hartford Senior High School walked out during class and rallied outside the school on Monday, after a student's accusation that a teacher inappropriately touched her went public. A parent of one of the protesting students who gave Townsquare Media permission to use the video, said the students were protesting over the fact that the accused teacher has been able to keep his job and is still teaching in the high school.
The incident allegedly occurred in September 2021, according to the victim's mother who spoke with WIBX on Monday. A Notice of Claim has been filed against the school district, the accused history teacher Jeffery Walters, high school Principal Mark Benson and social worker Mary Annette Danella.
According to an interview with the Observer Dispatch, the student claims that Walters told her, "I love your jeans. I love the color of your jeans." The student said he then came from behind his desk and "put two fingers into the left-hand pocket of her jeans, where it remained for a few seconds," the OD report says.
According to the report, a "Stay Away" order was issued to the teacher which would have prevented contact with the female student, but that order was allegedly violated on a handful of occasions, the family told the OD. The newspaper also reported that the district failed to report the incident within the required 60-days to their liability insurance company, Utica National, which could mean the district would be forced to pay for "defense costs and judgements" if the insurer disclaims.
The report also states that Utica National will not defend Walters because he allegedly participated in "wrongful acts" that are not in the scope of his job. The notice of claim filed by attorneys for the victim's family secures their right to sue the district for damages.
WIBX spoke to the victim's mother to confirm the facts in the case under the condition that her comments would be "off the record" with specification that any details about the incident already printed in the newspaper would be a part of the public record.
WIBX has reached out to the district and is awaiting comment from Superintendent Cos Tangorra.
[AUTHOR'S NOTE: As of this posting no arrests have been made in this case. All persons suspected of wrongdoing or charged in any cases are innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.]