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Skaneateles CSD faces lawsuit over alleged sexual assault incident

Skaneateles Central School District has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court earlier this month over an alleged sexual assault incident that occurred last year at the high school.

The suit seeks damages for an incident that occurred in Skaneateles High School on April 17, 2013. Joshua Cannon, a Skaneateles student in a special needs program, allegedly falsely imprisoned and sexually assaulted another special needs student in a bathroom in the high school.

The suit was filed by attorney James Fleckenstein on behalf of the victim’s family, who are not identified in the complaint. The victim is identified as having down-syndrome and is described as “non-verbal.”

The other defendants in the suit are Cannon, Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES, OCM BOCES, Moravia Central School District and Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES employee Randy Liberty, a Syracuse resident.

The criminal charges against Cannon remain pending, said Onondaga County Assistant District Attorney Rick Trunfio.

Prior to being indicted by a grand jury, Cannon was evaluated by psychiatric examiners and determined to be an incapacitated person, which is defined by New York State Criminal Procedure Law as: “a defendant who as a result of mental disease or defect lacks capacity to understand the proceedings against him or to assist in his own defense.”

He is being held on the charges until a time when he is deemed to be able to understand the proceedings, Trunfio said.

The civil suit says that Cannon, who had transferred to Skaneateles from the Moravia district, has “violent and aggressive tendencies towards other students,” and that Skaneateles was aware of this and had developed a special education plan for him.

Despite the knowledge of his tendencies, the suit alleges that Cannon and the plaintiff were instructed by Liberty to leave their classroom, unsupervised, to return their trays to the lunchroom.

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