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CNN, Sports Illustrated, and Other Major Media Cover Latest OSU Sexual Assault Lawsuit

Major media outlets have covered the latest lawsuit filed by ECBAWM against The Ohio State University for the role it played in facilitating and concealing the sexual abuse of student-athletes by its former employee Dr. Richard Strauss.

Press Coverage 
“Nearly 30 new alleged abuse victims sue The Ohio State University,” CNN
“More Men Were Abused by Former Ohio State Doctor, New Lawsuit Says,” Sports Illustrated
“More men were abused by former Ohio State doctor, new lawsuit says,” ESPN
“New Lawsuit: More Men Were Abused by Ohio State Doctor,” US News & World Report
“New lawsuit: More men were abused by Ohio State doctor,” Associated Press

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ECBAWM Files Third Lawsuit Against The Ohio State University for Its Role in Facilitating and Concealing Sexual Assaults

ECBAWM has filed a lawsuit against The Ohio State University (“OSU”) on behalf of 29 survivors of sexual assault by former team doctor Richard Strauss.

The plaintiffs in Moxley v. OSU include Timothy Moxley, who was abused by Strauss first multiple times as a high school student at a wrestling camp held on OSU’s campus and then again as a student athlete at OSU, and 28 other men who were sexually assaulted, abused, molested, and harassed by Strauss while he was employed by OSU.

A 2019 investigation commissioned by OSU and conducted by the law firm Perkins Coie uncovered at least 177 abuse survivors and concluded that OSU had repeatedly failed to investigate or address complaints about Strauss.

Several months later, a report commissioned by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine also concluded that OSU failed to protect or inform students – even after the school was notified in 1996 by the State Medical Board about Strauss’ conduct. Instead of working to identify other students who had been abused by Strauss, as OSU told the State Medical Board it would, the school instead destroyed the health care records of students who had been examined by Strauss.

The firm has previously filed two separate lawsuits against OSU for its facilitation and concealment of sexual assaults by Strauss: Snyder-Hill v. OSU in 2018 and Khalil v. OSU in 2019.

OSU previously admitted that Strauss committed 47 rapes and 1,429 sexual assaults of student-patients while employed by OSU.

The Moxley plaintiffs are represented by ECBAWM’s Ilann M. Maazel, Debra Greenberger, and Marissa Benavides, along with Scott Elliot Smith LPA and Public Justice.

If you have been affected by the sexual abuse at Ohio State, please call us at 212-763-5042, email ohiosurvivors@ecbawm.com, or use this form.

Press Coverage
“Twenty-nine new plaintiffs sue Ohio State over university’s knowledge of Strauss abuse,” The Columbus Dispatch

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ECBAWM Represents Family in their Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Federal Correctional Officers Who Took Jamel Floyd’s Life

On June 3, 2020, Jamel Floyd died at the hands of federal correctional officers at the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ (“BOP”) troubled Brooklyn jail facility, the Metropolitan Detention Center (“MDC Brooklyn”). On behalf of Mr. Floyd’s mother, Donna Mays, and Mr. Floyd’s extended family, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the United States and the BOP correctional officers who caused Mr. Floyd’s tragic, untimely death.

Mr. Floyd was housed in solitary confinement at the MDC Brooklyn last June when he began to experience a medical or mental health crisis. Instead of using non-violent measures to assist Mr. Floyd, dozens of BOP correctional officers descended on Mr. Floyd’s cell armed with riot shields and pepper spray. After Mr. Floyd followed the correctional officers’ orders, the officers repeatedly doused Mr. Floyd with pepper spray while he was locked alone in his cell, causing him to immediately collapse and go into cardiac arrest.

When BOP correctional officers opened the cell door, they found Mr. Floyd on the ground, unresponsive and with his heart failing. Not a single BOP correctional officer or staff member attempted to help Mr. Floyd, even though a health technician was present in the unit and every correctional officer on the scene was trained in CPR. Rather, the officers tackled Mr. Floyd and kept him pinned to the ground for several minutes. Even after an officer announced that he could not find Mr. Floyd’s pulse, the officers kept him pinned and then dragged him out of his cell. Finally, the officers strapped Mr. Floyd’s incapacitated body to a restraint chair—a device designed to restrain violent, out-of-control individuals. Mr. Floyd never recovered. He was pronounced dead upon his arrival at a nearby hospital.

Over the past year, Mr. Floyd’s family has joined Brooklyn community organizers and activists in holding demonstrations and vigils outside of the Brooklyn MDC, where they have demanded transparency, accountability, and justice for Mr. Floyd’s death. In response, the BOP has ignored Mr. Floyd’s family and refused to provide them access to his prison medical and administrative records—files the agency later turned over to Mr. Floyd’s family only after ECBAWM filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in federal court in November 2020.

“Jamel Floyd’s death was not an accident, it was the direct result of a group of correctional officers’ decision to respond to Jamel’s distress with brutal force, and then stand idly by while Jamel lay dying,” said Nick Bourland, an ECBAWM attorney representing the plaintiff. “Law enforcement officers—whether they patrol our neighborhoods or the halls of a federal jail facility—must be held accountable for their actions.”

Mr. Floyd’s family, including the plaintiff in this suit, his mother, Donna Mays, are represented by ECBAWM attorneys Katherine Rosenfeld and Nick Bourland.

Press
“Family of inmate who died after being pepper sprayed in Brooklyn federal prison sues,” CNN
“Family of MDC inmate claims jail guards did nothing as he ‘slowly died,’” New York Post
“Family of man who died at Brooklyn jail in June 2020 sues federal lockup,” New York Daily News
“Metropolitan Detention Center corrections officers ignored Hempstead man’s pleas for help, suit alleges,” Newsday (Long Island)
“After His 2020 Death in a New York Jail Cell, Jamel Floyd’s Family File Lawsuit Against Bureau of Prisons,” Time

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ECBAWM Sponsors of NYU School of Law’s Robert and Helen Bernstein Institute for Human Rights

ECBAWM is pleased to announce that the firm will sponsor NYU School of Law’s Robert and Helen Bernstein Institute for Human Rights (“Bernstein Institute”), reflecting ECBAWM’s historical commitment to defending human and civil rights and ensuring the integrity of judicial and governmental systems. “The objectives and approach of the Bernstein Institute closely align with ours,” said ECBAWM partner Zoe Salzman, who was recently named to the Institute’s Board of Advisers. “Our sponsorship is an opportunity to further the goals we’re all working toward together.”

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ECBAWM Partner Zoe Salzman Named to Board of Advisers for NYU School of Law’s Robert and Helen Bernstein Institute for Human Rights

ECBAWM partner Zoe Salzman has been named as a Member of the Board of Advisers of NYU School of Law’s Robert and Helen Bernstein Institute for Human Rights (“Bernstein Institute”). The Bernstein Institute engages in innovative research, education and advocacy to support projects around the world. Its work is focused in two major areas: encouraging and defending dissent, and legal empowerment so that the law is accessible to everyone. Its programs include the Jailhouse Lawyers’ Initiative, which advocates for the legal empowerment of current and former jailhouse lawyers and law clerks – a process central to ending the cycle of incarceration and enabling communities to obtain freedom from the inside out. As part of its holistic approach, the Bernstein Institute engages with law students, academics, interdisciplinary allies, and, most importantly, the communities that are affected by human rights violations.

The Bernstein Institute is named for Robert L. Bernstein, the founder of Human Rights Watch, and his wife Helen. Bernstein served as the Chair of Human Rights Watch from 1978-1998 and as the Founding Chair Emeritus from 1999 until his death in 2019.

Salzman will join other leaders in law, government, foreign policy, and business in providing strategic guidance to the Bernstein Institute. An experienced trial attorney, Salzman has spearheaded groundbreaking civil rights cases including a class action that ended the Tampon Tax in New York and a landmark victory in the First Department Appellate Division that rape and sexual assault are necessarily motivated at least in part by animus towards the victim’s gender and therefore prohibited by the New York City Victims of Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Law.

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Two Child Sexual Abuse Cases Filed Against Cold Spring Harbor High School

Cold Spring Harbor High School Class of 1982 graduates Lynda Cutbill and Susan Rule Sandler (formerly Susan Shanahan) filed complaints in the Islip federal courthouse today seeking to hold the Cold Spring Harbor School District and Board of Education accountable for enabling and emboldening the horrific and violent sexual abuse perpetrated against them by two teachers, whom the school knew to be dangerous predators of children.

According to the complaints, the District knew that Thomas Kohm, a venerated science teacher known for his Ivy League college connections, and art teacher William Kail, a talented artist in his own right who boasted about his connections in the art community and with art schools, had engaged in unchecked, predatory behavior toward its girl students for many years. Instead of firing these dangerous men or reporting their child sexual abuse crimes to the police, the District covered up the abuse.

Between 1978 and 1980, Thomas Kohm groomed, then horrifically and methodically abused, 14-year-old Susan Shanahan during her freshman and sophomore years. Kohm’s abuse included violently raping her during a school event—a 1980 Cotton Bowl Parade float competition in Dallas. Many of Kohm’s near-daily attacks occurred during the school day in a science classroom storage area.

In March of 1980, Susan reported the abuse to the District’s most powerful officials and warned them that she believed Kohm was also abusing his own children. The District made the cynical tactical decision not to report Kohm’s crimes to the police. It permitted Kohm to quietly resign. The District continued to grant Kohm access to the School after his resignation, enabling Kohm to relentlessly retaliate against Susan until her 1982 graduation. In 2003, Wade County in North Carolina convicted Kohm of the crime of indecent liberties with a child—he had sexually abused his granddaughters. He became a registered sex offender.

“I am coming forward today, not just for me, and not just for Mr. Kohm’s other victims, but also for the countless others who, like me, struggle throughout their lives to survive both the torture of being sexually abused and the paralyzing fear that asking for help, even from the adults that were charged with protecting children, would be futile and would instead be met with hostility and demeaning retaliation,” said Susan Rule Sandler. “For decades, the School District has kept what Mr. Kohm did to me in the back of my science classroom and in Dallas, along with the cruelty of how they treated me after his abuse came to light, a secret. No more. Filing this lawsuit is the next necessary step in the fight for accountability and justice.”

From 1979 through 1982, art teacher William Kail sexually abused Lynda Cutbill from the time she was in middle school until she graduated from high school. Kail used Lynda’s passion for art and ambition to be an artist to gain sexual access to her. Kail sexually abused her hundreds of times during the school day in his office and in an art storage area. The Complaint details that school administrators had been specifically told that Kail was abusing another high school girl. Instead of firing Kail, the District continued to grant him unsupervised access to the secluded areas within the school which he continued to use to abuse Lynda. The District chose silence over reporting Kail’s criminal behavior to the police or protecting Lynda.

“On an almost daily basis beginning in middle school and lasting through high school graduation, my art teacher, Mr. Kail, sexually abused me hundreds of times during my school day,” said Lynda Cutbill. “Mr. Kail weaponized my passion for art and talent as an artist by demanding that I submit to his relentless sexual assaults as a condition of him mentoring me to success as a college art student and career as an artist. Mr. Kail chose to make me his victim because he knew that my home life was tumultuous and that school officials, who had received prior reports that he sexually abused another student, would callously turn a blind eye to obvious sexual abuse danger signs. I am coming forward today because no child should ever have to endure what I did and no institution, no matter how powerful, should be permitted to benefit from their complicit silence by escaping justice.”

“I applaud Lynda and Susan for having the courage to come forward and demand accountability and justice,” said ECBAWM partner Debbie Greenberger, who, along with Pennsylvania attorney Andrew Shubin, represents the plaintiffs. “We know that they are not Kohm or Kail’s only victims. I shudder to think about how many other victims there are who have stayed silent for years, believing they were the only girl these trusted teachers abused. We encourage witnesses to contact us.”

Greenberger and Shubin credit the 2018 New York Child Victims Act, which reformed the statute of limitations to provide child sexual abuse survivors like Lynda and Susan with a window (which expires on August 14, 2021) to file civil claims and demand accountability. “All child sexual abuse victims should have access to justice,” said Greenberger, “no matter their age.”

Press
“2 women who say they were sexually abused as students at Cold Spring Harbor HS file lawsuit,” Long Island News 12 (video)
“Former Students File Lawsuit Against LI School Claiming Sexual Abuse,” NBC 4 New York (video)

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ECBAWM Partner Zoe Salzman Featured in Daily Beast Coverage of Trump Rape Defamation Case

As reported in The Daily Beast, the U.S. Department of Justice made clear on Monday that they intend to continue their defense of former president Donald Trump in the defamation lawsuit filed by E. Jean Carroll. On behalf of the behalf of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the country’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, and other advocacy groups, ECBAWM previously filed an amicus brief in support of E. Jean Carroll and in opposition to the DOJ’s position that Trump is immune from suit for defamation because he was a government employee when he called Carroll a liar and said she was “not my type” after Caroll came forward to say that Trump had raped her years before he was a government employee.

The brief filed by the DOJ claims that Trump is entitled to both immunity and government-funded legal representation because he was a government employee at the time he made the statements – even though Carroll is suing Trump in his personal capacity and not in his official role as a government employee.

“It is disappointing to see this administration continue to defend Trump’s bankrupt legal position,” said ECBAWM partner Zoe Salzman, who, along with law clerk Julian S. Oppenheimer, represents the amici. “To agree with DOJ in this case is to send a chilling message to survivors of sexual assault and discourage them from holding their assailants accountable. The Second Circuit should affirm the District Court’s well-reasoned decision.”

Related Press
“Biden’s Department of Justice Is Still Taking Trump’s Side in E. Jean Carroll Case,” Jezebel

Article

ECBAWM Files Excessive Force Lawsuit on Behalf of Man Paralyzed by NYPD Officers

On June 2, 2021, ECBAWM filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Peyman Bahadoran, a former Wall Street trader who is now paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by NYPD officers during a non-violent confrontation. As detailed in the complaint, Mr. Bahadoran—who suffers from bipolar disorder—experienced a manic episode on June 4, 2020 outside a Manhattan deli after days of seeing violence between police and Black Lives Matter protesters outside his home near Union Square. NYPD officers on the scene did not even attempt to use non-lethal techniques to subdue Mr. Bahadoran. Instead, two NYPD officers shot Mr. Bahadoran in the spine and left arm. He was unarmed and non-violent at the time the officers shot him. He is now paralyzed and unable to control any body function below his waist.

Security and body camera footage of the shooting have been widely circulated in the news media and confirm that the officers’ force was excessive. “The body camera footage shows clearly that Mr. Bahadoran was unarmed when shot,” said Mr. Bahadoran’s lawyer Earl Ward. “It further disproves the claim by the department that he was ‘reaching’ and ‘lunging.’ He posed no deadly risk and now there’s a bullet lodged in his spine and he may never walk again.”

ECBAWM’s Earl Ward, Jonathan Abady, and Marissa Benavides represent Mr. Bahadoran in the suit.

Read the filed complaint

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ECBAWM Counsel Diane Houk Negotiates Settlement of Race Discrimination Case Filed Against White Suburban Community

On June 1, 2021, a federal judge approved a settlement agreement between ECBAWM client the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) and the Town of Eastchester, New York resolving a five-year lawsuit. The agreement obligates the Town to amend its zoning code to remove residency preferences for affordable senior housing and not to use similar preferences in any future housing programs it may operate for 30 years. The Town, whose senior population is 95% white, will remove obligations it had originally imposed on a mixed-income senior rental building in Eastchester to apply preferences for current Town residents.

FHJC alleged in its lawsuit that the preferences discriminate against senior Black and Latinx nonresidents in a County where the income-eligible senior population is 66% white. FHJC also alleged that the Town’s use of a similar residency preference in its housing rental voucher program caused Black and Latinx applicants, who were more likely to be nonresidents, to wait an average of 10-15 years for a voucher. At the same time, white applicants waited only 8 months to a year to receive a rental voucher. FHJC found that even though 75% of the Town’s voucher waiting list was Black or Latinx, 73% of those who received vouchers were white.

After ECBAWM filed the lawsuit, the Town abruptly closed its rental voucher program in early 2019 rather than bring it into compliance with fair housing laws. ECBAWM attorneys successfully advocated to the State of New York and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to transfer the program to the State, eliminate all residency preferences, and reorder the Town’s waiting list based on the date of application and not residency.

Later that same year, when ECBAWM learned that the Town told the developer of a new senior rental building they were required to agree to a restrictive covenant mandating residency preferences, ECBAWM attorneys filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against the Town. The motion was resolved when the Town agreed the developer could begin initial rent-up without applying residency preferences.

After federal District Court Judge Vincent Briccetti rejected the Town’s efforts to dismiss the case by summary judgment in September 2020, the parties negotiated a resolution that includes $635,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees.

FHJC was represented by ECBAWM Counsel Diane L. Houk. For more information about the settlement and case see FHJC’s June 1, 2021 newsletter.

PRESS

“Eastchester pays $635,000 to settle federal housing bias case,” The Press Journal / lohud.com

“Discrimination suit prompts Eastchester to change Section 8 housing policy,” The Real Deal

Article

ECBAWM Obtains Class Certification for MDC Blackout Plaintiffs

In a ruling on May 25, 2021, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman of the Eastern District of New York granted class certification to a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of people incarcerated in the west building of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn (“MDC”) during the eight-day blackout in winter of 2019. To date almost 1,700 people have been identified as class members.

“Taken together, this evidence paints a harrowing picture of prison conditions in the wake of the fire and power outage,” Judge Korman wrote in the Memorandum and Order. “In particular, the evidence describes a series of inhumane and potentially dangerous conditions that affected residents throughout the West Building during the week without power.”

ECBAWM partner Katherine Rosenfeld praised the decision. “Although the BOP treated the people confined in the MDC during the blackout as though they were less than human – leaving almost 2,000 locked in dark, freezing conditions for a week without adequate food, medicine, clothing, blankets, or any way to communicate with their families – the Court’s decision affirms that everyone who experienced this crisis can bring their claim to the federal court with the benefit of counsel,” said Rosenfeld.

The class will be represented by Rosenfeld, ECBAWM partner O. Andrew F. Wilson, ECBAWM associate Scout Katovich, and ECBAWM Justice Catalyst Fellow Sonya Levitova, along with Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Professors Alexander Reinert and Betsy Ginsberg.

For information about the class action, including case updates, please visit MDCBlackout.com.

Press
“Inmates Jailed at Brooklyn Federal Lockup During 2019 Freeze, Blackout Certified as Class,” New York Law Journal
“Judge says nearly 1,700 inmates can sue Brooklyn’s MDC jail as a group over freezing conditions in 2019,” New York Daily News
“Class certified over 2019 winter power outage at Brooklyn jail,” Reuters

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