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I-TEAM: More allegations against Amherst guidance counselor expected, lawyer says

Koch denies allegations of sexual abuse
Posted: 1:26 PM, Sep 23, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-23 18:31:09-04
Former Amherst Central High School guidance counselor accused of abusing student

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — More child sexual abuse allegations are expected to be made against a retired Amherst High School guidance counselor, an attorney for one of the accusers said Monday.

Paul K. Barr, the attorney who is representing the former Amherst student who says she was exploited and molested by John "Jack" Koch in the 1980s, says he has fielded a flurry of calls since filing the lawsuit last week.

"Of all the cases I have, this case, in particular, has gotten the most attention from her contemporaries, because I'm getting calls from other kids that graduated from Amherst that are saying, 'I know that this guy did this to her, because he did it to my friend, too," Barr said in an interview.

Koch, who retired as dean of students at Amherst in 2007 after 35 years with the district, denies the allegations.

"Mr. Koch denies these false allegations and will vigorously defend his reputation," said Sara A. Johnson, Koch's attorney.

But Barr said he has been told that Koch was a bartender at Mulligan's Brick Bar in Buffalo in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

"He would invite the students to come there and drink -- the underage students, even -- and say, 'Look, I'll get your drinks, you guys can hang out and party,' and and then he would use that as an opportunity to take advantage of girls," Barr said.

Barr said his client is "very credible" and was 14 at the time of the alleged abuse, which allegedly started around 1981.

In ninth grade, the lawsuit states, Koch began counseling her and she revealed she was a victim of a recent sexual assault.

But he then "took advantage" of her vulnerability, telling her that he could "help her with her anxiety and distress by personally giving her 'lessons' in sex, so she could be a better sexual partner in the future and 'enjoy it,'" the lawsuit states.

"She had nowhere to turn," Barr said, "and he exploited that."

According to a 2007 article in the Amherst Bee, Koch was responsible for "school attendance and discipline." The article said Koch "polices the school grounds and deals with residency issues."

The article also stated that Koch said he was "proud of the relationship the district has with the Amherst Police Department."

The woman alleges that Koch told her to keep quiet about the alleged abuse.

"[He said], I'll get your relative kicked out of school if you tell on me," Barr said of Koch.

UPDATE: Amherst High School released the following statement:

"The Amherst Central School District was made aware of troubling allegations regarding the conduct of a former District employee occurring more than 35 years ago. The former employee at issue retired from the District more than 10 years ago. The District is undertaking all appropriate steps in response to this information. The District has no higher priority than ensuring the safety and welfare of the District’s students, and is confident in the policies and procedures that are currently in place to protect the District’s students."

Click here to read the lawsuit.