Nyack school district settles Child Victims Act sex abuse lawsuit
The Nyack Union Free School District has settled a sex abuse lawsuit filed by a former high school student-athlete who alleges he was victimized by a former volunteer coach.
Court documents obtained by News 12 claim former Nyack High School assistant baseball coach Peter Recla sexually abused Patrick D’Auria from 1996 to 2000, starting when the student was 14 years old.
The lawsuit was filed in Rockland County Supreme Court in 2020 under the New York state Child Victims Act, which lifted the statute of limitations for victims to file civil claims of past sexual abuse in 2019 through 2021.
It alleges Recla engaged in a pattern of predatory behavior while acting as an assistant coach at Nyack High School. This included grooming, providing the teen with pornography, masturbation, sex acts and filming the teen engaged in intercourse with a female off campus.
D’Auria, now 41, is a member of the Nyack High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame and lives with his family in Wilmington, North Carolina. News 12 spoke to him on Thursday by Zoom while he was back in Rockland County for an upcoming Hall of Fame event. He said he wants to let victims of any crime know they’re not to blame.
“It’s OK to talk about things that happened to you,” says D’Auria. “There shouldn’t be shame surrounding it. For a long time, I lived with a lot of shame surrounding what happened trying to figure out why.”
The lawsuit alleges that the district was made aware of the abuse at the time but failed to protect the student.
“This is a very hard thing to talk about especially as a male athlete. It’s not easy but it has gotten easier for me over the years the more I talked about it,” D’Auria says.
The Nyack School Board issued the following statement after we inquired about the allegations.
"The Nyack Board and District take claims of sexual abuse very seriously and are committed to having a safe, healthy and positive educational environment. In October 2020, a Summons and Complaint on behalf of the Plaintiff, a certain student alumnus, was received by the District in a lawsuit against Nyack Board of Education, Nyack School District and Nyack High School. The Plaintiff alleges that, approximately 23 or more years ago, a then/former volunteer assistant baseball coach sexually abused the Plaintiff between 1996 and 2000. The Summons and Complaint was subsequently sent to the District’s insurance carrier and the District Defendants were defended in the lawsuit by such insurance carrier’s designated defense counsel. As part of such lawsuit, in April 2021, a Third-Party Summons and Complaint on behalf of the District Defendants was commenced against the then/former volunteer assistant baseball coach. In May 2022, the matter was amicably resolved by the parties. The decision to do so on behalf of the District Defendants was made by the District’s insurance carrier and the insurance defense counsel. The safety and wellbeing of our students is of the utmost importance to the Nyack Board and District."
Recla is no longer a district employee or volunteer coach. News 12 was unable to get in touch with him for comment.