Fulton County YMCA and former employee facing $10 million lawsuit
May 10, 2019 11:15 PM
Johnstown – The Fulton County YMCA and a former employee are facing a $10 million federal civil lawsuit.
It comes after the Fulton County Sheriff’s Officer arrested former employee Tyler Benton, 19, for allegedly raping a young girl.
“This is a situation where we're talking about forcible rape in a place where she thought she was safe and so both for the parent and child it's very devastating,” said Attorney Ryan Finn with the firm O’Brien & Wood. Finn is representing the 12-year-old victim and her family in the civil lawsuit.
The lawsuit said the rape happened in a family locker room at the Fulton County YMCA on Harrison Street. Court documents said Benton, who the YMCA said is no longer employed there, went into the locker room looking for a manager to return keys to. It goes on to say before the sexual assault, Benton spent several hours working in the teen center and acted inappropriately toward the victim and several others by having the victim sit on his lap, rubbing their shoulders and hair and having inappropriate conversations.
“If employees are trained to keep boundaries, something like this could not and would not ever happen,” said Finn. “But it’s not just Tyler Benton that’s the problem. He had supervisors, he was on camera, and he was in a room where other employees saw his behavior.”
The lawsuit claims the YMCA failed to properly educate or train staff concerning misconduct and inappropriate behavior.
“You need to prevent these things and that means training employees and making sure people know where the boundaries are, because something like this doesn't just happen in a vacuum it happens overtime,” said Finn.
Finn added, while the YMCA self-initiated contact with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office and is cooperating with the investigation, he said it’s not enough.
“I'm not giving you a big pat on the back for that, I'm sorry more needed to be done and you should've done more before this happen,” said Finn. “Hopefully we've prevented the next one"
NewsChannel 13 reached out to the Town of Johnstown court to obtain the name of the lawyer representing Benton. However, the court would not give us that information. Benton is due back in court for the criminal case on June 19.
Fulton County YMCA CEO Steven Serge released the following statement:
At the Fulton County YMCA the safety of children and families has and always will be our top priority. We are aware of the charges associated with one of our former employees and are deeply disturbed by his alleged actions.
The staff person is no longer employed by the Y and we are cooperating with local authorities in their investigation.
Mr. Benton was a part-time employee with the Y since 2017. When he was hired he underwent our comprehensive employment processes which include a New York State Central Registry background check as well as him agreeing to and signing the YMCA Code of Conduct which details behavioral standards all Y employees must follow. When learning about what may have occurred, the YMCA self-initiated contact with the Fulton County Sheriff’s office.
For well over 100 years the Fulton County YMCA has served our community with distinction and pride as an organization focused on youth development. We are committed to helping children and families grow and thrive as healthy, strong individuals.
Updated: May 10, 2019 11:15 PM
Created: May 10, 2019 11:13 PM
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