NEW BRITAIN - A former Central Connecticut State University student filed a lawsuit Monday against the school and a theater professor who has previously been accused of sexual misconduct.
The female plaintiff filed the 49-page lawsuit against CCSU and former professor Thomas Delventhal through the representation of attorney Maria Garcia-Quintner, of Westport, in federal court Monday. The plaintiff’s name is being withheld to protect her identity as a victim.
“This is a case about an entire institution’s deliberate indifference and abject failure to protect students like Plaintiff from calculated sexual harassment and emotional abuse by a former Faculty Member Thomas Delventhal…” an introduction to the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit said the plaintiff enrolled at the school in the fall of 2017 at the age of 19 after the school she previously attended out of state was forced to shut down because of financial trouble. Delventhal, who was hired by the school in 1998 and is over the age of 50, was appointed as her advisor.
Delventhal was directing a play and cast the plaintiff toward the end of August 2017 in the role of an abusive, neglectful and pregnant mother who abused drugs, despite her desire to not play the role because it was too close to what she had been through growing up, the suit said.
Delventhal would then have one-on-one meetings with her, asking her to share details of her past which she didn’t want to do, the lawsuit stated. After she would start to cry, at one point, he hugged and kissed her on the head, forehead, collarbone, arms and hands, the lawsuit said.
After the play, Delventhal would try to have the plaintiff bring up her past to have an opportunity to get close to her, including touching her on her thigh, the lawsuit continued. He would touch her buttocks with rolled up pieces of paper or theater props and make physical contact with her in other instances, the lawsuit stated.
Delventhal also told the plaintiff he was the only one who could help her, he would have been a better father than her actual father, any guy would be lucky to date her, she didn’t need makeup, and invited her over to his house if she was lonely, the lawsuit said.
In April 2018, another theater professor, Joshua Perlstein, came under scrutiny for sexual misconduct allegations, the suit stated. Perlstein has since resigned from the school.
After those allegations came to light, Delventhal’s treatment of the defendant became erratic and at times angry and retaliatory, the lawsuit contended. Delventhal called the plaintiff “stupid” and told her it’s her fault she’s abused because she doesn’t tell people to stop.
The plaintiff became scared of Delventhal and thought he would share her personal information with the class, and dropped out of his class in January 2019, the lawsuit said.
Toward the end of that month, the school released Shipman & Goodwin’s investigative report into sexual misconduct allegations in the Theater Department, which found that Delventhal and Perlstein more than likely engaged in sexual misconduct. The report also found that the CCSU Office of Diversity & Equity and its Human Resources Department, which were charged with handling the sexual misconduct complaints alleged in the report, failed to address and properly investigate them.
The plaintiff read the report and moved back to Idaho in February 2019 based on the harassment from Delventhal and the school’s failure to protect students like her, the suit said. She underwent and continues to undergo mental health treatment related to harassment at CCSU. She enrolled in a local university and abandoned her dreams in theater and chose to pursue a degree in business.
Delventhal was fired in May after a termination hearing and has an appeal hearing scheduled for February. CCSU spokesperson Janice Palmer declined to comment on the lawsuit while it is pending. A request for comment through Delventhal’s school email was not immediately returned.
The lawsuit said the school violated Title IX rules, which aims to prevent discrimination in institutions receiving federal funding. Delventhal’s negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and assault and battery, caused damages and injuries to the plaintiff, the suit also said.
The lawsuit looks to award the plaintiff damages Garcia-Quintner did not immediately return a request for comment.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or email@example.com.