An alleged victim in a second school district is pursuing legal action against Charles Regan, the Riverhead High School principal who was recently reassigned over allegations of a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old student, according to a legal filing.
Attorney John Ray of Miller Place filed a notice of claim, the first step in a lawsuit, May 14 with the Eastport-South Manor School District after a second victim came forward with details of an alleged assault that occurred nearly 20 years ago. The claim was filed against the district and Mr. Regan and the district received it May 16.
Mr. Ray said the victim, now 35 years old, will not speak publicly, but was compelled to take action after learning of recent allegations raised by Anastasia Stapon, a Riverhead High School senior who through Mr. Ray has filed a $10 million notice of claim against her district.
The woman, who was identified in the notice of claim as a member of the Eastport High School Class of 2002, is planning to sue the district for $20 million. She also plans to report the incident to police next week, Mr. Ray said.
Mr. Regan, 48, of Quogue was a special education teacher, administrator, basketball and volleyball coach in the Eastport-South Manor School District, before he left for an assistant principal position in Riverhead in 2006. He was 29 years old at the time of the alleged incident.
Mr. Ray said the latest victim was 16 years old and an athlete on a school basketball team coached by Mr. Regan when he allegedly took her to a New York Knicks basketball game in 2000, served her alcohol and coerced her into having oral sex and intercourse. In a press release, Mr. Ray said Mr. Regan and the alleged victim had sex “multiple times.”
The victim is described in the claim as having “severe” psychological damage resulting from the abuse and Mr. Regan working to isolate her from family and friends.
“She has been destroyed,” the claim states. “Her coach who had been her mentor, her hero, is in fact just a pervert who used his power over her to ensnare her in his dirty sexual traps.”
- High School principal Charles Regan speaks at Riverhead High School’s 2016 graduation ceremony. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)
The alleged victim’s mother became concerned when her daughter did not return home from the Knicks game, according to the notice of claim. The teen was with Mr. Regan in the basement of his parents’ home until approximately 3 a.m. that evening, the claim states. The mother allegedly reported her daughter’s absence and how she attended the Knicks’ game to Eastport administrators.
The administrators failed to conduct a thorough investigation of the encounter, the claim states. Mr. Regan allegedly demanded that the victim lie about it to administrators, which she agreed to do. The victim told administrators that she was at a friend’s party where her driver became drunk, so she called Mr. Regan to take her home.
The victim’s mother allegedly did not believe that account, but the administrators “irrationally, grossly neglectfully and willfully credited the improbably story at face value,” according to the claim. The victim’s mother delivered to Eastport officials intimate electronic sexual messages between Mr. Regan and her daughter, the claim states. The officials were mandated to report child abuse, but did not file any reports, according to the claim.
Mr. Ray said Friday that the alleged victim did not report the incident to police in 2000.
He continued the relationship and “demanded and cajoled” her to have sex on at least three occasions when she was 17, leaving her “mentally and psychologically damaged.”
A message left for Eastport-South Manor’s acting superintendent, Joseph Steimel, was not immediately returned Friday. An attempt to reach Mr. Regan on his cell phone was met with an automated greeting stating the phone has been disconnected. A woman who answered the phone at Mr. Regan’s parents’ home hung up on a reporter.
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In an interview Friday, current Eastport-South Manor school board president Nicholas Vero called the allegations “very upsetting.”
He said he first heard of the allegations earlier this month after they were raised in relation to Ms. Stapon’s claim.
“We heard about it and were like ‘Oh my God, this is when he was … at Dayton Avenue School,” Mr. Vero said.
He said the claim is a tricky one for the district to navigate since it occurred before the Eastport-South Manor merger and also since Mr. Regan is no longer an employee of the district.
“This is not a personnel matter for us,” he said.
Mr. Vero said the board was notified of the notice of claim after it was received May 16 and that the superintendent has reached out to insurance carriers and others.
“There’s nothing for the board to do at this time,” he said. “It’s all being handled by the superintendent.”
The alleged second victim met Mr. Regan in 1997, while she was a 13-year-old student at Dayton Avenue school, according to the notice of claim.
The suit alleges that Mr. Regan became her mentor, counseled her and took her and other students to the beach to “watch him surf.”
Mr. Ray suggested that more victims with serious allegations could come forward and he urged them to do so.
“In Eastport, we are certain that the administration was made aware of at least the first incident and they did nothing,” he said.
Mr. Regan was first hired as an assistant principal in June 2006 in a split school board vote. His position was created when the district eliminated department chairperson positions, a decision that encountered opposition from the teachers union and three board members.
Former school board member Christine Prete, one of the three members who voted against Mr. Regan’s hiring, said Friday that she wasn’t satisfied with the hiring process during her time on the board.
“I voted no,” she said. “The reason was there was no process for the board. I didn’t get to see his résumé, I didn’t get to interview him and this is what’s wrong with every single school board in America today.
“The administration runs the board and that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.”
Ms. Prete said she would vote no in instances where she wasn’t given information about a new hire.
“I wanted to interview this guy,” she said. “Especially if we’re hiring administrative people. We should interview them.”
Reached for comment in recent weeks, the other two former board members who voted against Mr. Regan’s appointment, Kathy Berezny and Angela DeVito, couldn’t recall specifics of why they opposed his hiring.
On Friday, Ms. DeVito said the only appointment she was involved with prior to the actual vote was the effort to replace former superintendent Paul Doyle.
“State Education Law says the only employee of the Board of Education is the superintendent of schools,” she said.
Ms. DeVito said in light of the recent allegations, she’s concerned about Mr. Regan’s ability to seek employment elsewhere if no actions have been taken against him.
“If [Riverhead] let him go and there’s no criminal charges, the state will not pull his licenses and certifications without criminal charges against him,” she said. “Will this school district issue a letter of recommendation to get a job somewhere else? It’s a question that needs to be asked.”
Mr. Regan, who has served as high school principal since 2013, earned $187,693 in 2018, according to SeeThroughNY. He is married and has one son and daughter.
Mr. Ray said Friday that Mr. Regan used “exactly the same tactics” on the earlier victim that he did with Ms. Stapon this year.
In Riverhead, Mr. Regan is accused of grooming Ms. Stapon and attempting to seduce her at a time she was suffering from depression. At a press conference earlier this month, Mr. Ray shared sexually explicit text messages allegedly sent by Mr. Regan to the student. Speaking at the press conference, Ms. Stapon also alleged that Mr. Regan “sexually assaulted” her in his office.
Earlier this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act, which increases the amount of time perpetrators of child sexual abuse may be held accountable. It allows victims to file a civil lawsuit at any time before they reach 55. The previous limit had been age 23.
The legislation opened a one-year window this year to revive past claims of any age.
“By signing this bill, we are saying nobody is above the law, that the cloak of authority is not impenetrable and that if you violate the law, we will find out and you will be punished and justice will be done,” the governor said in a statement in February.
Correction: Mr. Regan has one son and daughter.