Child Victims Allege Multiple Molestations at N.Y. Deaf School

"What we are trying to find out in an investigation is what the school knew, when it knew it, and when they found out, what else they did besides fire [Casucci]," he said. "Did they have an environment conducive to the abuse happening? Pedophiles are everywhere."

Despite Fanwood's claims that they knew nothing about the firing of Casucci, former dean of students Richard Stelle told that he was responsible for firing the man after two 14-year-olds told him the dorm supervisor had sexually molested them.

Casucci worked at the school from 1961 until his firing in 1979. He and his wife, Marie, lived in an apartment on the same floor as the girls and were paid to supervise the dorms, which accommodated five-day boarding students. The school closed its residential program 10 years ago, according to Stelle.

"I was in a brand new position and within two weeks of September when two girls came to me and told me this horrible story," said Stelle, now 62. "They said they had been touched and fondled. There were games he played with the girls and he made them wrestle or whatever in their pajamas. Things like that.

"They pretended not to be aware of what was going on," he said. "They were afraid if they told their mothers, all hell would break loose."

Hodge was not one of the initial whistleblowers, but Stelle said he knew her well as a student and her mother was head of the Parent Teacher Association. "She was a wonderful kid," he said.

Stelle said that day three more girls came forward to accuse Casucci and he interviewed others to verify their story and to make sure he was on "solid ground."

"I was totally shocked," he said of the allegations.

The alleged molestations were reported in the morning and by afternoon, Stelle said he had found replacements for Casucci and his wife Marie that evening and arranged to talk with them in the morning.

"Before noon that next day, both were terminated," he said. The late Kenneth Litchfield, school superintendent at the time, fired the couple and Casucci "went down denying all the charges."

"Why it was not reported, I don't know," Stelle said. "It was above my authority level. Sensitivity to child protective services was different from what it is now."

Stelle said he didn't "even dare calculate" how many girls have been molested by Casucci over his 18-year tenure at the school, but had no doubt the man would have "continued" after leaving Fanwood.

"The police, law enforcement and child protective services should have been notified," Stelle said.

Also advocating for Hodge and the other victims is Kevin Mulhearn, the lawyer who in 2009 won a case against Brooklyn's Poly Prep Country Day School, which had covered up decades of sexual abuse by football coach Phil Foglietta, who died in 1988. The school agreed to a settlement in the case.

He credits Fanwood with "immediately getting rid" of Casucci, but said administrators did not go far enough.

"Part of the investigation is finding out whether anyone at the school had any notification this occurred and what the response was," said Mulhearn. "And what happened after he was fired? Did he lose his pension or was he rewarded and went in his merry way?

"These were 4, 5, and 6-year-old girls," he said. "They were really young babies and deaf."

But Mulhearn said Hodge does not want to see the school "hurt" by this investigation.

"We want to emphasize how great the school was and how pivotal it was in terms of their development," he said. "We welcome constructive dialogue. ... We just want answers."

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