12 women say they were abused as children at school for deaf

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Twelve women say in a lawsuit that they were sexually abused as children while attending a prestigious school for the hearing impaired.

The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday against the New York School for the Deaf, alleges that a now-deceased dormitory housemaster, Joseph Casucci, molested multiple girls on a daily basis in a bunkhouse style dorm 1964 and 1975. The suit says the victims were as young as 4 years old.

“It was a nightly routine and we were just little girls,” one of the plaintiffs, Damita Jo Damiano, said through a sign interpreter. “It was the routine we would come to expect: We would do homework, take showers and the abuse would begin. It was normalized.”

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they decide to tell their stories publicly. Damiano and another plaintiff spoke at a press conference with their lawyers.

Steve Straus, a lawyer representing the school in White Plains, also known as Fanwood, said the institution “exists to educate deaf and hearing-impaired children and provide the tools needed for lifelong success. As this matter is in suit, I am unable to comment other than to say that the claims allege conduct occurring about 50 years ago.”

The lawsuit was filed under the state’s Child Victims Act, which extended the statute of limitations for lawsuits regarding child sexual abuse.

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