I-Team: Victim sues former NCCC president for defamation over sex assault comments

Klyczek called her "dumb" and "stupid"
Posted at 1:08 PM, Aug 08, 2017

A 7 Eyewitness News I-Team investigation into Niagara County Community College and its handling of reported sex assaults on campus has already led to the ouster of the college president and security director.

Now the scandal has prompted legal action.

A victim of the 2016 sexual attack is suing the former president, James Klyczek, the estate of Dejuan Hunt, her alleged attacker who died in the Niagara County Jail, as well as the college board of trustees and Niagara County.

The victim said the sexual attack in the NCCC library was traumatic, but it's what Klyczek and others said afterward that cost the woman her dignity.

**Click to read about the two scandals -- bid-rigging and sexual assault -- uncovered by 7 Eyewitness News earlier this year**

“What is she stupid?,” Klyczek said in a meeting of top administrators that was recorded and obtained by 7 Eyewitness News. “I mean, no, seriously. this just aggravates me. Make us the guilty party because you're too stupid to follow your instinct that this guy sits down next to you and there's nobody else around, you agree to take him on a tour. That is as dumb as can be.”

Klyczek continued, “Her daughter should be worried, because if she's got her mother's genes, she's dumber than a doorknob.”

Advocates say those are comments that should never be uttered about a victim.

"That's victim blaming, and that's not only unfair…that's unethical and that's ignorant on the part of the individual who has those questions," Mary Brennan-Taylor of the YWCA of Niagara said at the time of the investigation. "A sexual assault is never, ever, ever the victim's fault."

In the defamation lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in Niagara County, the victim said those comments caused her to suffer “disgrace and ridicule” in her professional circles, “shame and embarrassment” among her family and friends and “severe mental anguish.”

She went on to say in the lawsuit, "This was so hurtful and really shook my confidence and made me wonder if these other people were thinking I was ‘stupid’ or ‘dumb’ because the president of my alma mater was saying it about me.”

The victim said she came to realize "how wrong NCCC had been in handling the entire situation,” as the college did not notify her about two sexual harassment incidents that same day involving Hunt and also let him gain entry into the library despite the lack of student identification.

The college also came under fire for doing nothing to notify students of the sexual attack before Hunt allegedly attacked another woman -- a freshman student -- two weeks later.

Klyczek could not be reached to comment. NCCC spokeswoman Barbara DeSimone did not respond to a request for comment. 

The college board of trustees met Tuesday at 4 p.m. in Sanborn and sources say they were briefed by state officials on how better to respond to sexual assaults on campus.