Content warning: Sexual abuse
Three individuals have testified in a lawsuit against Andrew Barer ’84 and the University that they were sexually abused by Barer while he was employed as a resident advisor (RA). Their testimonies, provided via sworn affidavit, will be used to support the complaint of plaintiffs Craig Salamone and Doug Cartelli, who were local middle school students when, they allege, Barer assaulted them. The case, which Judge Edward Domnarski presides over, is scheduled for trial in January.
The plaintiffs’ complaint, which was filed against Barer, the Northern Middlesex YMCA, and the University on Sept. 11, 2017, alleges that between 1982 and 1984, Barer sexually abused them and other minors in the Foss Hill dorms and basketball facilities. Barer, who was a member of the basketball team in addition to being an RA, allegedly lured Cartelli and Salamone into University buildings under the guise of athletic instruction, where he proceeded to sexually abuse them. The complaint, which was revised in September 2018 after a summary judgement exculpated the YMCA of any wrongdoing, claims that the University is liable because they did not prevent Barer’s actions.
“At all times relevant to this action, the defendant, Wesleyan University, knew or should have known that the defendant, Andrew Barer, sexually abused, sexually assaulted, and sexually exploited the plaintiff[s],” the complaint reads.
The University could not be reached for comment by the time of publication.
The University’s response to the revised complaint denies the plaintiffs’ claims that they should have known about the abuse, that Barer’s actions were foreseeable, and that they are responsible for a breach of duties by: failing to supervise Barer, failing to investigate his actions, and failing to conduct a background check before hiring him. Regarding Barer’s employment, the University claims that he was never hired to work for them in any capacity, despite the plaintiff’s claim and Barer’s sworn admission that he did in fact work as an RA.
“Wesleyan never employed Barer as a resident advisor and/or head resident, and more fundamentally, Wesleyan does not have any records that Barer ever held these positions in any capacity,” the University’s 2019 memorandum reads.
The plaintiffs refute the University’s argument that Barer was not an RA.
“We categorically deny that [claim],” said the plaintiffs’ lawyer Eamon Donovan. “[Barer] admitted to being a resident advisor at Wesleyan University.”
The University further claims that even if Barer did serve as a resident advisor, the U.S. Department of Labor would not recognize him as an employee, as their handbook stipulates that residence hall assistants and dormitory counselors are not employees.
The plaintiffs take further issue with the claim that Barer’s actions were not foreseeable. They have presented three new testimonies in support of their case, and each individual claims to have been assaulted by Barer prior to the plaintiffs’ alleged assaults. On Aug. 6, 2019, one such affidavit was filed in the Middlesex Superior Court. In the first affidavit, the individual testified that he was sexually assaulted by Barer on eight different occasions in 1982, when he was 13 and Barer was a sophomore at the University.
“Andrew Barer brought me onto Wesleyan University’s campus and into his dorm room without concealing my presence and in plain sight,” the affidavit reads.
The second affidavit, filed on Aug. 9, a second individual stated that he was sexually assaulted by Barer in his dorm room on multiple occasions throughout the 1982 school year, when Doe was 14. On Aug. 18, the plaintiffs filed the third affidavit, in which a third individual testified that he was assaulted by Barer twice under similar circumstances when he was 13.
“I absolutely think [the affidavits] help support this case,” Donovan said. “The basis of this lawsuit is that [Barer] was bringing teenage boys on to Wesleyan’s campus before my clients were brought on. Wesleyan should have been monitoring their student who was also a resident advisor.”
Neither the plaintiffs nor any of the three individuals named in the affidavits could be reached for comment.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the University declined to comment on the ongoing litigation. This article has been updated to reflect that the University could not be reached for comment.
Erin Hussey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter as @e_riss.