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Brooklyn Tech Principal Knew About Sexual Misconduct and Did Nothing: Suit

By Janet Upadhye | January 12, 2015 5:32pm
 The lawsuit claims Brooklyn Tech officials ignored complaints about sexual harrassment by Sean Shaynak.
Sean Shaynak
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FORT GREENE — Officials at Brooklyn Technical High School ignored reports made by teachers and the owner of a nearby coffee shop that teacher Sean Shaynak was sexually inappropriate with students — and the principal himself did nothing despite witnessing the behaviors firsthand, a recently filed lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit, filed over the weekend in Brooklyn Federal Court, claims that concerns were ignored because of the money that Shaynak's prestigious aerospace program brought into the school.

According to the documents, principal Randy Asher was present at a school dance about five years ago where Shaynak, who was dressed in drag, lifted his skirt at female students.

Even after Shaynak made "lewd and sexually suggestive gestures," Asher took no action against the teacher, who was later arrested for victimizing six students.

Asher told parents that he was unaware of misconduct of any kind by Shaynak before his initial arrest in August 2014.

The suit says teachers, administrators and even the owner/manager of the nearby Connecticut Muffin  bakery saw Shaynak sexually harassing students and reported it to school officials — also with no results — between 2010 and 2012.

A teacher/assistant principal "informed principal Asher of the seuxally harassing and inappropriate behavior by Shaynak," the suit says.

"He openly flirted with girls, he had students skip classes and come into his room, he openly bought girls cigarettes right off of the campus and there were several complaints about Shaynak over the past several years," said lawyer Jeff Herman who is representing four victims. "We allege that this high school utterly failed their students."

It was unclear how many incidents the suit was refering to.

"This inappropriate behaviors was grooming behaviors, used by Shaynak to manipulate Brooklyn Tech female students into sexually harassing and exploitative relationships," the court documents said. "This open and notorious grooming behavior was ignored by Brooklyn Tech officials and administrators."

The suit sites Shaynak's prestigious Aerospace Program that "generated a great deal of donations for the school" as one of the reasons officials ignored complaints about the teacher.

The DOE referred questions to the city's law department. “We will review the lawsuit once we are served,” a spokesman for that agency said.

The lawsuit was filed on Jan. 10 against the city on behalf of female student "V.V.," who alleges that Shaynak began "grooming" her in March of 2012 by befriending her on social networks, sending her sexual text messages, taking her to the Museum of Sex and later having sexual relations with her in a Long Island Hotel room, as the New York Post first reported.

Over the next several months the two met on a daily basis at school or in Shaynak's home after school, the suit says.

When V.V., who was a senior at the time, tried to end the relationship while in Shaynak's car in August of 2012, he became erratic and drove recklessly, screaming at V.V. while banging on the steering wheel, according to the suit.

When Shaynak finally stopped the car V.V. escaped and hid behind bushes for nearly 40 minutes before she was able to catch the train home.

"I feel like I was used," she said in a statement. "If I had a chance to sit down and talk to him I would tell him that what he did was sick and he should have stopped when I told him to stop."

Shaynak was arrested in August 2014 after he sent another female student a Snapchat picture of his genitals. The student told her parents who notified officials. A month later he was re-arrested in connection with six other victims and indicted on charges of kidnapping, committing a criminal sexual act, forcible touching, endangering the welfare of a child and disseminating indecent material.

He faces up to 25 years in prison.

Shaynak's lawyer, Kimberly Summers, declined to comment. The manager of Connecticut Muffin could not be reached for comment.