Lawsuit filed by former students alleges sexual abuse, exploitation at UNC School of the Arts

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A lawsuit filed Monday alleged nearly 40 former high school students at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts were sexually abused or exploited during their time on campus.

The lawsuit named 25 former administrators and faculty members who either allegedly participated in the abuse or condoned it and alleged the students were abused between 1969 and 2012.

UNCSA accepts high schools students and according to the lawsuit, the 39 named victims were in high school.

In a news release, one of the law firms representing the plaintiffs said Monday’s lawsuit follows one filed on September 29. Lanier Law Group, along with co-counsel Gloria Allred, had filed the September lawsuit on behalf of seven former students of UNCSA. All seven of those students attended the school in the 1980s and were allegedly victims of sexual abuse and exploitation.

Lanier Law Group said the news coverage that followed the filing of that lawsuit resulted in its offices being inundated with calls and emails from other former NCSA students who were victims of sexual abuse and exploitation and from other former students who witnessed the culture of abuse and neglect.

“The bravery of these additional victims coming forward has resulted in our filing of a second lawsuit today that names 39 former UNCSA high school students as plaintiffs who were victims of sexual abuse and exploitation while attending the school,” the firm said. “The complaint alleges that the institutional betrayal of its students by UNCSA was schoolwide, and it existed in the music department, the dance department, the visual arts department, the drama department and even among the residence hall and security staff.”

Among other allegations, the named faculty and administrators in Monday’s suit are accused of grooming young students before drawing the student into a sexual relationship.

“In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, the dance department at Defendant UNCSA was home of two of the most openly notorious faculty members – Richard Kuch (deceased) and Defendant Gain,” the lawsuit reads. “Kuch and Gain made no secret of their efforts to have sexual relationships with UNCSA’s minor students and were widely known to groom boys as young as 12 and 13 years old with the full and open intent of engaging in sexual activity with these adolescent students.”

The victims alleged that despite knowledge of their behavior, Kuch’s and Gain’s colleagues did nothing to stop their abuse or protect students.

The 164-page lawsuit goes on to accuse the defendants of several more offenses.

A full copy can be found here.

The law group said it’s believed there are many more victims who have not yet come forward; it said the Safe Child Act deadline is Dec. 31 and anyone who was victimized while a student at UNCSA is encouraged to take action immediately, before time runs out.

“We want you to know that we along with this growing group of survivors is here for you,” Lanier Law Group said. “We also ask that you please contact us at (800) 814-1114 if you would like to join the numerous other witnesses who have come forward to corroborate and support these victims.”

UNCSA released a statement on Nov. 29 in response to the lawsuit:

“The allegations filed today of historical sexual misconduct at UNCSA are deeply disturbing and run counter to the university’s institutional values. The current administration intends to respond to this litigation by listening to the accounts with openness, appreciating the courage it took for our alumni to share their experiences, and taking steps to acknowledge and address any historical sexual misconduct with candor and compassion.

“UNCSA is committed to providing a learning, teaching and working environment that is safe and free from all forms of harassment and discrimination and enables all students to thrive. The university has significant safeguards in place to protect its community against abuse of any kind, including an infrastructure for current students to report sexual misconduct or harassment; a mandatory requirement for all employees to report any sexual misconduct or harassment; prevention and education training; and counseling services for all students. UNCSA routinely reviews and improves these safeguards as well as the Title IX reporting and response processes. As UNCSA reviews and addresses these allegations, the university will begin an additional external review of current safeguards, reporting structures and response resources to ensure the university continues to serve student needs fully.”

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