A settlement was reached Tuesday between the New Rochelle Board of Education and F.U.S.E. the district's teachers union, in a case over allegations that a school district employee sexually assaulted a second employee in City Hall. Under terms of the agreement, provided to Talk of the Sound by parties close to the case, the employee keeps their job but will be temporarily demoted for a period of one year.
Anthony Newman, a glazier in the Buildings and Grounds Department of the City School District of New Rochelle, was facing possible termination after having been accused by a female employee of grabbing her breasts and then hugging her in an office at City Hall. The hearing was held in City Hall on Tuesday November 22nd.
According to sources present during the hearing, a key witness gave testimony that differed from statements made in an affidavit prior to the hearing. In the affidavit, these sources say, the witness stated that after Mr. Newman grabbed the complainants breasts he hugged her. In the hearing, the same witness stated that after Mr. Newman grabbed the complainants breasts, the complainant hugged Mr. Newman.
The district expects there to be heat as a result of the settlement. The complainant, a close relative of a prominent City official, was said to be extremely upset with the decision by the district to settle the case and is considering filing criminal charges against Newman for sexual assault.
School officials were not pleased with the outcome.
"We all believe this happened as she described", said one senior school official who asked not to be identified, "but given the confused testimony by a key witness Kehl had no choice but to settle the case."
Jeffrey Kehl is a partner in the law firm retained by the school district.
Schools officials have long complained that given New York State Civil Service Law and the unions, it is all but impossible to fire Board of Education employees.
One school official, asked about the many cases that have come to light recently of employees who were improperly hired, had no answer when questioned on whether the extreme difficulty in firing employees meant that extreme care should be taken in hiring employees in the first place.
The full terms of the deal is that Newman will remain at home on paid leave until December 31st, 2011. He will then return to work at a lower pay grade on January 1, 2012. If he does not get into further trouble he will be reinstated at his current pay grade in 2013. The total cost in lost wages in 2012 to Newman is estimated to be $4,300. Newman had previously been suspended for 30 days, with pay, pending the hearing.
Given Newman's current salary his pay for the 10 weeks he is not working is more than double the amount he will be effectively docked during 2012. Newman comes out ahead about $7,500.
The incident, which occurred this past July, followed a previous incident where Newman allegedly engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with the victim and made sexually suggestive comments. After the complaint in July, two other woman came forward with additional complaints. Two letters were submitted to Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak detailing the incident. There were two witnesses to the assault.
A phone message left at Newman's residence in Mount Vernon, NY was not returned.
The actual crime involved is "forcible touching" where a person intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly touches the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading or abusing such person; or for the purpose of gratifying the actor’s sexual desire.
When the complaint first notified her superiors about the incident, the response was a directive from John Gallagher, the head of Buildings and Grounds, ordering Newman to stay away from City Hall. Newman was suspended when he returned to City Hall despite the directive. Newman has claimed that the victim encouraged him to grab her breasts in an office at City Hall.
Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment of students and staff has been a persistent problem for the New Rochelle Board of Education.
Jose Martinez - repeatedly raped a student in his office at the Isaac E. Young Middle School. Martinez was never suspended, investigated or subject to a hearing despite numerous prior complaints.
Kareem Ali - sexually harassed his supervisor in City Hall. Under terms of an agreement, Ali is restricted to certain parts of City Hall and is not permitted to pass beyond the men's bathroom in the 2nd floor hallway or go near the finance department offices.
Walter Hubbard - fired after violating an agreement regarding persistent viewing of pornography on school district computers.
Robert McLean - alleged to have had sex with students at New Rochelle High School.
Kyle Figueroa - alleged to have had sex with students at New Rochelle High School. Caught on video tape receiving oral sex from a student.
Leroy Manuel - alleged to have had sex with students at New Rochelle High School. One girl was allegedly impregnated by Manual. She is said to have moved to Florida where she gave birth.
Donna Henry - possession and distribution of child pornography.
Talk of the Sound has questioned for years why the school district even has a glazier on the payroll. Even if it were necessary, Newman is reportedly unable to perform the most basic duties of a glazier.
"People joke about Newman," said one source. "They say 'don't stand under a window installed by Tony Newman".
EDITOR'S NOTE: We know the names of the victims in the case; per our policy, we do not identify victims of a crime unless the victims ask to be identified or it becomes a matter of public record. We would ask readers not to speculate but let the story play out. Thanks.