Teachers, Student Charge Storm King School with Cover Up of Student Rape and Rampant Discrimination

Cornwall-On-Hudson, NY. Three former teachers and a former student are suing The Storm King School in separate law suits claiming that the school administration purposely covered up the sexual assault and rape of a 16-year-old student.
July 26, 2011 - PRLog -- Storm King, a private boarding school for international students located in the Hudson Valley, is named as a defendant in both suits, and its Head of School Helen Stevens Chinitz is named in the teachers’ law suit as well. The teachers bringing the suit are Shelly Kaye, Desiree St. John, and George C. (Chris) Kaye.

The complaint asserts that two male Storm King students were accused of sexually assaulting the 16-year-old international student at an off-campus party, and a photograph of part of the incident alleged to constitute child pornography was distributed among Storm King staff.  The teachers were told that the Head of School notified the victim’s father of the incident who directed that the school take no action, but the father has since commenced a law suit against Storm King School in Orange County Supreme Court seeking unspecified damages for its failure to supervise and protect his then-underage daughter, and directly disputing that he was ever informed his daughter was the victim of a sexual assault or rape.

The teachers contend that the Head of School orchestrated a concerted effort of retaliation against them for their attempts to involve Child Protective Services and obtain counseling for the rape victim, as well as their efforts to provide even minimal instruction for the student body on offensive or improper sexual behavior. The school administration is alleged to have intentionally refused to address continuing issues of inappropriate sexual conduct among its students and staff.  

In an email attached to the teachers’ complaint, the Head of School instructed Storm King staff that they were not to contact CPS without her permission, which if true violates New York’s mandatory reporter law prohibiting any interference with a teacher’s obligation to report suspected incidents of abuse.

The teachers’ complaint details incidents involving the school’s willingness to overlook that Director Andre Green lacked the basic credentials to teach while he and other preferred males were the subject of multiple complaints of harassment that largely went ignored.  Administrators openly accused plaintiffs of being overly emotional due to pregnancy hormones or suggested that they should stay home after maternity leave to care for their families, and plaintiffs were dismissed as “feminists” when they encouraged fair treatment of females at the school.  These and other actions allegedly contributed to the disparate treatment suffered by the plaintiffs, which is said to have created an intolerable atmosphere of sex discrimination.

Jeanne Valentine of the Valentine Law Office, attorney for the teachers, said this week, “These three brave, outstanding teachers did all they could do to support the students at Storm King School but were blocked at every turn.  It is unfortunate these issues were not dealt with internally, forcing us into litigation. It is our hope the school will be motivated to make positive changes in its administration and procedures to better protect and serve its staff, its students and their families.”

In the teachers’ federal law suit, defendants Helen Stevens Chinitz and Storm King School, represented by Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP, have filed a motion to dismiss the teachers’ claims before the merits can be heard.  The Storm King School is represented by Lynch Schwab PLLC in the student’s law suit.

Storm King School a private high school located in Cornwall-On-Hudson in Orange County, serving about 140 students in grades 8 - 12, of which 75% board and 25% are day students, each from 10 states and 13 countries of which international students comprise about 45% of the student body, at an annual cost of anywhere between $11,950 to as much as $57,000 per student.  The Storm King School has a workforce of about 60 employees.

A copy of the teachers’ complaint with exhibits is available upon request.

Shelly Kaye, Desiree St. John and George C. Kaye v. The Storm King School and Helen Stevens Chinitz, United Stated District Court for the Southern District of New York, Docket No. 11-cv-3369, pending before Judge Vincent L. Briccetti.

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