Multiple women file suits alleging years of sexual abuse by former junior high music teacher

Filings over the past 48 hours in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Suffolk County, bring the number of women alleging childhood sexual abuse by former music teacher and yearbook advisor Eugene Senzer, a current resident of Sumner County, Tenn., to at least five.

Allegations in the suits filed span several decades, ranging from 1969 to 1998. In addition to Senzer, Greenlawn, N.Y.’s Oldfield Middle School, Harborfields Central School District, and the district’s Board of Education are named in the suits and are accused of fostering an environment that allowed the abuse to occur.

Haldis “Hallie” McEvoy, of Gardiner, New York, filed the first of the suits against Senzer and the school district in August 2019. McEvoy, now 60, alleged Senzer first invited her to his office when she was in the 7th grade. The walls of Senzer’s office were lined with pictures of young, female classmates in various stages of undress, McEvoy alleges. Senzer went on to groom the girl by normalizing inappropriate, sexual conversations, she alleges. Senzer frequently encouraged her to give him massages before escalating the abuse by exposing himself to her, and ultimately sexually assaulting her. Another filing in February 2020 contained similar facts and alleges Senzer groomed Plaintiff Donna dePasquale by normalizing inappropriate physical contact and sexual conversations before raping her when she was in the 10th grade. Read more about that filing and allegations.

The latest filings make similar allegations, including instances of Senzer inappropriately rubbing the victims’ shoulders, touching their breasts, and taking inappropriate photographs of the young girls. Several victims allege that certain instances of the abuse occurred in the school’s photography darkroom after Senzer had lured them there.

The suits are filed under New York’s Child Victims Act (CVA), which opened a one-time-only limited “lookback window” during which victims of abuse may file civil claims against their alleged abusers and institutions that enabled them, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred. The CVA’s lookback window is scheduled to close Aug. 14, 2021.  

The suits against Senzer and school district assert claims of sexual battery, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, emotional distress and other claims under New York law. Motley Rice attorney Daniel Lapinski and Nye Stirling Hale & Miller LLP lawyer Benjamin Sweet (PA) represent the plaintiffs.

“Based upon the allegations, it seems it was far from a secret that Eugene Senzer was a threat to innocent children, and we have reason to believe the school and district knew it, too. The Plaintiffs allege that dating back to the early 1970s, Senzer’s office was covered with explicit sexual photos of young female students. The allegations are that although members of the staff and administration were aware of this, Senzer was never reprimanded, disciplined or investigated but, instead, was allowed to hold his position as a teacher for decades, giving him the opportunity to prey on young girls entrusted to his care,” said Motley Rice attorney Daniel Lapinski. “The nightmare these women endured has stayed with them for their entire lives. The New York’s Child Victims Act has now provided an opportunity for their voices to be heard. These women have demonstrated strength in coming forward to seek accountability for the horrible acts committed against them.”

Read the five complaints filed against Senzer in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Suffolk:

Donna dePasquale v. Harborfields Central School District, et al., Index No. 601958/2020

Whitney Gardner v. Harborfields Central School District, et al., Index No. 614101/2021

Nancy Maliwesky v. Harborfields Central School District, et al., Index No. 614099/2021

Haldis McEvoy v. Harborfields Central School District, et al., Index No. 615909/2019

Doreen Schipper v. Harborfields Central School District, et al., Index No. 614100/2021

About Motley Rice LLC

Motley Rice is one of the nation’s largest plaintiffs’ litigation firms. With a tradition of representing those whose rights have been violated, Motley Rice attorneys gained recognition for their pioneering asbestos lawsuits, their work with the State Attorneys General in the landmark litigation against Big Tobacco, and their representation of 9/11 families in the ongoing lawsuit against terrorist financiers. The firm continues to handle complex litigation in numerous areas, including securities fraud; antitrust; consumer protection; mesothelioma; environmental contamination; prescription and over-the-counter drugs; other medical devices; human rights; aviation disasters; and wrongful death. Motley Rice is headquartered in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., and has additional offices in Connecticut; Washington, D.C.; New Jersey; New York; Pennsylvania; Missouri; Rhode Island; and West Virginia. For more information, contact Motley Rice attorney Daniel R. Lapinski (NJ, NY, PA) at 1.800.768.4026 or visit Motley Rice LLC, a South Carolina Limited Liability Company, is engaged in the New Jersey practice of law through Motley Rice New Jersey LLC. Esther Berezofsky is the attorney responsible for New Jersey practice. Connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.