Newburgh school district reportedly settles child sex abuse lawsuits for $11M

The lawsuits were filed by former students Sandra Burke in 2019 and Alicia Kirby in 2020 under New York state’s Child Victims Act, which provided a temporary window for survivors to seek justice against their abusers in civil court.

Blaise Gomez

Feb 7, 2024, 5:34 PM

Updated 158 days ago

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The Newburgh Enlarged City School District has reportedly reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with two victims who accused a retired teacher of sexually abusing them decades ago.
The lawsuits were filed by former students Sandra Burke in 2019 and Alicia Kirby in 2020 under the state’s Child Victims Act, which provided a temporary window for survivors to seek justice against their abusers in civil court.
According to court documents, former Union Grove physical education teacher Sherman Memmelaar repeatedly sexually abused the women decades ago when they were young children attending the district elementary school, now known as Meadow Hill.
The allegations date back to 1969.
The lawsuits claim Burke, who was the first victim, reported the abuse to several teachers who failed to intervene and that the district should have known about the abuse based on a pattern of alleged public behavior by Memmelaar, including allegedly directing girls to take off their shirts in gym and instructing them to engage in sexual poses disguised as exercise positions.
They also claim the district failed to ensure and provide a safe environment for the victims.
Memmelaar died by suicide at his home in Goshen in 2019, shortly after the first lawsuit was filed against him and the district.
News 12 reached out to the Newburgh school district and its attorney for comment but hasn’t heard back.
The last publicly filed documents in both lawsuits were notices of voluntary discontinuances in October 2023.
Both women were represented by attorney Evan Foulke in Goshen, who said the cases settled jointly in a confidential agreement on Aug. 31, 2023.
The district reportedly settled with the victims for $11 million, according to a published report that obtained a copy of the agreement under the Freedom of Information Act. 


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