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Deaf woman seeks inquiry into abuse at school

May 7, 2013 at 4:16 PM   |   Comments

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., May 7 (UPI) -- A former student at a prestigious upstate New York school for the deaf wants an inquiry into a former employee fired for molesting girls in the 1960s and '70s.

Marlene Hodge was 7 when she attended Fanwood, a school for deaf children in White Plains, N.Y., the second oldest school for the deaf in the United States.

She said Joe Casucci, a dorm father who was supposed to keep watch on 25 girls living at the school, would regularly climb into bed with the children, herself included, and sexually abuse them.

"I would pretend to be asleep hoping he would eventually go away," Hodge, now 52, said. "He would start by French kissing me and eventually move down to play with my vagina. I hated his stinky breath, a heavy smoker's breath."

Casucci, who has since died, was fired in 1979 after students came forward with allegations he molested them -- but the school never notified police and Casucci escaped prosecution, ABC News said Tuesday.

Hodge said she was inspired to come forward and seek a full accounting of administrators' actions because of the group of men who were similarly abused by a Catholic priest at a deaf school in Wisconsin.

Hodge's lawyer, Eric Richman, said the girls who attended the school are entitled to finding out the truth.

"Firing someone isn't enough -- just getting rid of a guy, out of sight, out of mind," he said. "These girls need psychological help. They need counseling for a lifetime. What we are trying to find out in an investigation is what the school knew, when it knew it, and when they found out, what else they did besides fire [Casucci]? Did they have an environment conducive to the abuse happening? Pedophiles are everywhere."

Richman said his client is exploring her options for a civil suit against the school but none has yet been filed.

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