Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie sued over sexual abuse by staff

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POUGHKEEPSIE – Three adults who were sexually abused as children while at the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie are suing the agency in Dutchess County State Supreme Court for neglect alleging the agency knew about the abuse but did nothing to stop it.

One of the victims, only identified as Jane Doe, now 29, had a message for her abuser on Tuesday.

“I would like to say shame on you, being an adult, being a staff who is supposed to play a professional role to take advantage of a minor,” she said. “It leaves lifelong damages, mentally and emotionally, so I would say shame on you, especially since you have kids of your own,” she said.

Jane Doe’s abuse by a male counselor began when she was 14.

John Doe, who is also 29, was abused from age 16 by a female counselor.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t want to grace that woman with the presence of my voice. She took four years of my life and I am still mentally scared from this. I will be in counseling for the rest of my life. It is just that I don’t want to put any more energy into saying anything directly towards her. That woman has had enough of my time,” he said.

Children’s Home Executive Director Walter Joseph would not comment on ongoing litigation, but said, “the allegations that have been presently raised against the Children’s Home are strongly disputed. Further, the Children’s Home complies with all state mandates and regulations.”

He said the mission of the facility “has remained the same: The Home is dedicated to providing a safe and nurturing environment that improves lives and empowers at-risk children and families in the Hudson Valley and surrounding communities.

Walter said the dedicated staff provides care for children and youth on a daily basis. “Since 1847, more than 9,000 children have found sanctuary at the Children’s Home.”

Attorney Robert Greenstein said all three of his clients were raped by staff “who were responsible for protecting them.”

One of the abusers, Helen Fahy, who was named employee of the year at the Children’s Home, was arrested two years later for having sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old. She was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in state prison and is now a registered level two sex offender, Greenstein said.

Another Greenstein client abuser, Tarell Heard, was arrested last year for endangering the welfare of a child under the age of 16 while working at another facility.