Three women have accused their former Brooklyn private school teacher of sexually abusing them over five decades ago when they were just 12 years old, new court papers show.
Nancy Smahl-Syrop, Jane Bedell and Sara Smahl all claim that Robert “Bob” Rusch sexually abused them on multiple occasions in the late 1960s and early 1970s while he was a seventh-grade teacher and extracurricular advisor at the Woodard School in Brooklyn, a Bronx Supreme Court lawsuit alleges.
Bedell and Smahl-Syrop also allege Rusch raped them, the court papers filed Thursday say.
During Rusch’s tenure — which spanned from 1965 to 1973 — he “sexually abused and assaulted multiple children in addition to the above-named plaintiffs, a fact known to defendant Woodard … which fired defendant Rusch in 1973,” the court documents allege.
Rusch, 77, who made a second career as a jazz journalist and record producer, admitted to some of the “allegations” and apparently expressed “remorse” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal in June 2014, the court papers point out.
“Without a doubt, it has been the thing I am most remorseful about, or confused as to where my ethical compass was or what happened to it,” Rusch told the outlet at the time. “I spent the last 41 years trying to be a better citizen.”
“The allegations in the complaint demonstrate that Rusch sexually abused our clients in a way that was open and obvious, and apparently acceptable, to the school,” their lawyer, Jordan Merson, said in a statement. “Our clients have lived with the horrific effects of this abuse every day since it happened.”
The women are suing for unspecified damages in the Bronx since Bedell lives there now.
They were able to bring their lawsuit under New York’s Child Victims Act which opened a look-back period for victims of childhood abuse to bring claims that had already passed outside of the statute of limitations.
Poly Prep Country Day School — which took over the Woodard School in 1995 — did not immediately return a request for comment.
Original article written by Priscilla DeGregory and published in the New York Post.