KEN-TON, N.Y. (WKBW) — O'Brien & Ford, P.C.filed four Child Victims Act lawsuits against former Herbert Hoover Elementary teacher Arthur Werner, accusing him of assaulting, abusing and/or groping male students. The lawsuits state Werner also regularly and repeatedly assaulted other boys in his classroom, forcing others to watch. These suits were filed under the one-year look-back Child Victims Act window.
"It's a chance for them to get justice," said Chris O'Brien, the lawyer representing the men. "These boys have carried it around with them. I think any of us can imagine how tough that has been."
The lawsuits claim one student was abused from 1972-1973, and the other three were abused from 1973-1974. The four victims are anonymous.
In the lawsuit, the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District is accused of "negligence, carelessness, lack of supervision and lack of appropriate policies," which cased the victims to suffer from emotional, mental and psychological injuries.
"He would say 'Come up. Come up. I want to talk to you, and he'd put his arm around them to bring them in close. If he was sitting down sometimes he would pull them onto his lap, and while he was doing that he was sexually assaulting them," said O'Brien.
And O'Brien is convinced there are other victims abused by this same teacher.
"It's rare you can say it so definitively but I say I know that because they were in the classroom and they saw other boys too," said O'Brien.
A source in the Ken-Ton School District confirms that the district did file a complaint against Werner with the State Education Department known as a “Part 83” complaint, last year, after a victim told them about the abuse. Due to the statute of limitations no criminal investigation could be pursued.
The Ken-Ton School District released this statement to 7 Eyewitness News Friday afternoon:
The Ken-Ton School District is aware of serious and concerning allegations regarding conduct by former members of the district staff at the time of their employment approximately 40 years ago. The district has been committed to taking any and all action within the scope of its authority to appropriately respond to the allegations and has been in communication with the appropriate state authorities regarding this matter. The Ken-Ton School District takes any allegations of misconduct by staff extremely seriously regardless of how much time may have passed or whether the employee is or is not currently employed by the district.
An alleged victim also released a statement about Arthur Werner:
Arthur Werner has been an unwanted and horrifying companion with me for the past 45 years in every aspect of my life. Physically, emotionally and sexually. He robbed from me the innocence and understanding of sexuality and safety. He did this in a premeditated and evil fashion.On so many occasions, Werner would cloak his abuse in his 'classroom projects' For me it was a realistic, giant, room sized Cave. It included a waterfall and his favorite predatory accessory, darkness. Many times Werner would use this cover to molest and abuse me.
O'Brien said no matter how long it's been, the effects of this abuse are everlasting.
"They've described to me, being at Home Depot, years later, seeing Mr. Werner there and wanting to go up to him and say 'Are you still sexually abusing little boys?'"
O'Brien also said some of the men have gone on to get married and have a family, but others have had trouble forming relationships throughout their lives.
Stay with 7 Eyewitness news for more updates.