Content Warning: This article contains reference to sexual abuse.
A summary judgement was issued on the Salamone v. Wesleyan University case by the Middlesex County Superior Court on Jan. 8, 2020. The case was filed on Sept. 17, 2020 by plaintiffs Craig Salamone and Doug Cartelli against the University, the Young Men’s Christian Association of Northern Middlesex County (YMCA), and former student and Residential Advisor (RA) Andrew Barer ’84 over Barer’s pattern of sexual abuse. The judge ruled in favor of the University, dismissing the only parts of the plaintiffs’ revised complaint that expressly addressed the University. This summary judgement marks the second out of three major judgments in this case.
The lawsuit claims that Barer sexually abused minors in the University’s dormitories and basketball facilities between 1982 and 1984. Salamone and Cartelli, who claim they were sexually abused by Barer, are Middletown residents who were middle-schoolers when the alleged conduct occurred. Since no judgment against Barer has been made, and the case is currently in the appeals phase, it is still considered ongoing litigation.
The most recent summary judgment stated that the University is not liable for the alleged sexual assaults on Salamone and Cartelli because they could not have foreseen Barer’s actions.
Salamone and Cartelli reported nearly identical complaints of sexual abuse against Barer, alleging that he lured them to his University dorm room with the promise of teaching them exercise and stretching techniques before he sexually abused them. The University was implicated because the abuse occurred on campus and was perpetrated by a student employee.
“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 minor plaintiff, Craig Salamone,” Count One of the complaint reads.
While the alleged sexual abuse took place in the 1980s, a complaint was not filed until Sept. 2017. This falls within the statute of limitations for the prosecution of the sexual abuse of minors, which Connecticut General Statute § 54-193a (2012) deems is within 30 years from when the victim turns 18 or within five years of the date the crime is reported to any police officer.
In 2018, a summary judgment exculpated the YMCA of any wrongdoing, but maintained that the University was liable because it did not prevent Barer’s actions nor monitor his behavior while he was a University student and employee.
The University submitted a motion for summary judgment on Apr. 15, 2019 on the grounds that RAs are not technically University employees according to the United States Department of Labor Field Operations Handbook, and that the University has no record of Barer ever being a University employee. Additionally, the University claimed that because it had no reason or evidence to lead them to believe that Barer was causing harm, it cannot be proved negligent. According to the memorandum of decision, the judge ruled in favor of the University on Jan. 2020 on the grounds of Barer’s employment status.
The case is now in the appeals stage following the trial court’s granting of judgment.
The President’s Office declined to comment on the judgement, in line with the University policy not to comment on ongoing litigation.
Hallie Sternberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @halsternberg.