Teacher's attorney says sex offenses 'did not happen'
By JOHN DUNN
NEWS STAEF REPORTER
An Ann Arbor public school teacher, accused by four young boys of having sexually molested them, did not commit any wrongdoings and will attest to his innocence, the teacher’s lawyer said Wednesday.
Tim Greeley, who represents Carmen Caruso - now suspended from his teaching job at Eberwhite Elementary School pending a tenure hearing — flatly denied the morals charges against the teacher in his opening statement.
"The allegations cannot be downplayed,” Greeley said, “but I can tell you that Carmen denies them. They d id not happen."
Noting that Caruso has had a "long and distinguished” teaching career in Ann Arbor over the past 14 years, the attorney said that "testimony will establish that Caruso is not capable of the behavior alleged."
The statement followed the testimony by a 12-year-old boy before the Ann Arbor School Board that he was sexually molested twice in the spring of 1979 by Caruso. He is accused of accosting four young boys between 1978 and 1982, while he was a teacher at Dicken and Pattengill Elementary Schools.
The youngster was one of eight witnesses who testified at the 4 1/2 hour session, the third in an ongoing series of tenure hearings being held as required under the Michigan Teacher Tenure Act.
At the two earlier hearings, the other three youths testified that Caruso molested them as follows:
• The first witness testified that Caruso molested him while he was spending the night at the teacher’s home during the Christmas vacation period of the 1981-82 school year, when the boy was a 10-year-old fifth grader in Caruso’s class at Pattengill Elementary School.
• The next witness testified that Caruso molested him while he was visiting Caruso’s home in October, 1980. He was also a 10-year-old fifth grader in Caruso’s class at Pattengill.
• The third youth accused Caruso of molesting him when they spent the night sleeping on the floor at the student’s house in April, 1979. That youngster was a 9-year-old student in Caruso’s third grade class at Dicken School, although Caruso was on sabbatical when the alleged incident occurred. He testified that Caruso kissed him repeatedly. The other three students have accused Caruso of fondling their genitals.
Caruso’s other attorney, Arthur Przybylowicz, called Errol Goldman, director of employee relations for the Ann Arbor Schools, as his first witness. Goldman testified that he first heard allegations against Caruso in June of 1979, and that he discussed those allegations with Caruso in August of that year.
Przbylowicz and Greeley also called the parents of the second youth to testify. They said they had become friends of Caruso and his wife after their son entered Caruso’s fifth grade class at Pattengill, and that they visited the teacher's house on numerous occasions.
A close friend of Caruso’s then testified that he had seen many youngsters at Caruso’s home during his frequent visits there during the past several years, and that he never saw Caruso give the children alcohol or act towards them in an improper manner.
“I thought he was real good with the kids,” he said. “They seemed pleased to have him as a friend.”
The parents of two children in the second grade class Caruso taught at Eberwhite School before his suspension also testified in his behalf. Both praised Caruso as a teacher, and said that he never mistreated their children in any fashion.
The youth who testified Wednesday evening was the last of the four boys to detail the alleged incidents in testimony before the board.
He testified under questioning by James Tobin, attorney for the administration, that Caruso first molested him when they were alone in the home of a mutual student friend - the third witness against Caruso - prior to the 1979 spring recess, when the youngster was an 8-year-old third grader at Dicken. Caruso, who was then on sabbatical from his teaching duties at Dicken, had been the youth's teacher for most of the first semester of that school year, and had continued to tutor the youth after going on sabbatical.
The second molestation allegedly occurred at Caruso's house a few weeks later.
The student testified that he told his mother about the incidents about two weeks after the second incident, and that an Ann Arbor police department detective questioned him about the incident after his mother called the police.
The boy’s mother — who followed her son as a witness - testified that she discussed the possibility of pressing charges against Caruso with both the police and Ann Arbor school administrators, but did not feel that her son could handle the trauma of public testimony at that time. She told school administrators that they could contact her if any other incidents involving Caruso were reported, however.
She and the youngster signed a written complaint earlier this year, after Assistant Superintendent Wiley Brownlee called and asked if the boy would testify, since other parents were prepared to sign complaints against Caruso.
After the boy’s mother was cross-examined by Arthur Przybylowicz, one of two attorneys representing Caruso, Tobin rested the administration’s case, and Caruso’s attorneys began the presentation of their defense.
The hearing resembles a trial in many ways, but it is not a criminal proceeding, and no criminal charges have been filed against Caruso.
Ann Arbor school administrators have asked the school board which acts as a judge in the matter to fire Caruso. When the hearings are completed, the board can vote to fire, reprimand, or reinstate Caruso, who has been suspended with pay since Feb. 24.
The hearing will continue this evening at 6:30 in the basement meeting room of the Ann Arbor Public Library.
Judson G. Pattengill School
Michigan Teachers' Tenure Act
Eberwhite Elementary School
Carrie L. Dicken School
Ann Arbor Board of Education
Ann Arbor Public Schools - Students
Ann Arbor Public Schools - Faculty & Staff
Ann Arbor Public Schools - Caruso Tenure Case
Ann Arbor Public Library
Ann Arbor Police Department
Ann Arbor News
R. Wiley Brownlee
Carmen V. Caruso