PCVA attorneys Jason Amala and Lesley O’Neill recently filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey in partnership with RAM LAW. The lawsuit was filed against the East Orange Board of Education on behalf of two men who allege they were sexually abused in middle school more than 40 years ago.
Teacher Jim Gerrish conducted an after-school magic program called “the Wiz Kids.” The suit alleges he used his position of authority as a teacher and program leader to sexually abuse the plaintiffs and that the school and the Board of Education did not take proper steps to protect them.
The complaint alleges that the defendant should have known that Gerrish posed a threat to children. There were prior reports, including from another teacher, of his misconduct which included improper interactions with children and failure to maintain appropriate boundaries with those in his care. Despite all this, Defendant failed to remove Gerrish from his position.
“Over the years, courts in New Jersey have held schools to ‘a heightened standard of care’, especially where there are vulnerable children involved,” said Lesley. “Our understanding is that Gerrish was ultimately moved to another school due to complaints, but an arrest was never made even though there was mounting evidence of wrongdoing.”
Jim Gerrish taught for the school district from approximately 1976 through 1983. If you or someone you know suffered abuse by Jim Gerrish, please contact us. New Jersey Law allows adults who experienced abuse as children to file civil suits until they turn 55 — or within seven years of discovering the causal connection between the abuse and the damages resulting from the abuse.
Media coverage about the lawsuit:
Decades-old sexual abuse accusations at after-school program alleged in lawsuit, NJ.com, 2/1/23