No fewer than 3 women say they were raped by teachers
OSWEGO — A lawsuit filed this week under state Child Victims Act statutes alleges a pair of faculty members of the Phoenix Central School District perpetrated widespread abuse against students in the 1960s and 1970s.
The 62-page complaint, a civil suit in state Supreme Court filed in Oswego and reviewed by The Palladium-Times, concerns four individuals, all of whom were adolescent girls at the time of the alleged abuse. For this story, The Palladium-Times spoke with two of the plaintiffs — Catherine Duringshoff, who attended Emerson J. Dillon Middle School (EJD) and John C. Birdlebough High School (JCB), and another woman who attended JCB, whose identity is known to the Pall-Times but henceforth referred to only as Plaintiff 1.
Both plaintiffs who spoke with The Palladium-Times are represented by attorney James Marsh, who said Phoenix school administrators were either complicit in the abuse or lacked the “institutional control” to stop it.
“When you see what’s happening in this district over 20 years, you have to say: why? Why didn’t somebody do something? Or when it was discovered after the fact, why didn’t they action then?”
Marsh said the claims against the Phoenix district are, unfortunately, not uncommon and follow a pattern well known to his firm. Rural communities, he said, are rarely equipped to deal with abusers.
“Often times, a school district is the most powerful institution in that community — there’s tremendous power to suspend or expel students, to decide who graduates and who gets left behind,” Marsh said. “These are powerful institutions. These victims felt outsmarted, out governed and of the mentality that ‘you’re only asking for trouble’ if you try to ‘fight city hall.’”