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Westport Works to Settle Education Lawsuit

WESTPORT, Conn. – A negligence lawsuit brought against the Westport Board of Education and Superintendent Elliott Landon by a former Staples High School student who claims she was sexually assaulted by her English teacher in 2003 may be withdrawn pending a settlement.

Bridgeport-based attorney Cindy Robinson, who is representing the unnamed student, said her client and the defendants are finalizing a settlement. Former Staples Principal John Brady and Peter Eramo, the former English teacher, are also named in the lawsuit.

“I give her so much credit for coming forward to put forth her claim, not just for this case, but the criminal case before this,” Robinson said of her client. “There’s no doubt that this settlement will allow her to move on with her life.”

The lawsuit says that the board, Landon and Brady failed to protect the plaintiff by not taking immediate action against Eramo when previous complaints were made against him. In 2006, the plaintiff accused Eramo of having sex with her in May 2003, when she was 17. Eramo was found not guilty of second-degree sexual assault in 2009.

In the months leading up to the alleged sexual assault, Robinson said many complaints had been made against Eramo. In February 2003, school officials decided not to rehire Eramo and allowed him to submit a letter of resignation, which allowed him to stay through the end of the school year.

He was terminated in June 2003 after he admitted to rumors that he had let two female students stay overnight at his apartment in May 2003.

Robinson said that if school officials had taken immediate disciplinary action against Eramo in February 2003, the alleged sexual assault of her client four months later might not have happened.

“The whole purpose of my client coming forward with this case is to hold the Board of Education accountable for not properly supervising a teacher they’d received numerous complaints about,” Robinson said. “Administrators had full warning about this man yet he was allowed to stay.”

Although a settlement is being worked out, Robinson said it in no way means her client is avoiding trial. In fact, Robinson said she and her client were “very ready to go to trial” but that the settlement process began on the first day of jury selection.

Robinson could not disclose the amount of money her client will receive from the settlement. The attorney representing the Board of Education in this case could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

( Read more about the case, and its history, here .)

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