Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts
Lawsuit Detailing School District’s Failure to Protect a High School Student From Child Sexual Abuse by Known Sexual Predator, Central Bucks High School West Music Department Chairman and Choir Director Joseph Ohrt.
State College and Philadelphia, PA – October 30, 2023 – Attorneys Andrew Shubin of Shubin Law Office, Inc., and Noah Cohen and Alan Yatvin of Weir Greenblatt Pierce LLP, filed a sexual assault lawsuit today against the Central Bucks School District in the Philadelphia federal courthouse on behalf of Central Bucks West High School Class of 2016 graduate John Calderaio, who was groomed and sexually abused over a period of almost three years by Music Department Chairman and choir teacher Dr. Joseph Ohrt. John Calderaio’s civil rights complaint seeks to hold the School District and Board of Education accountable for their role in enabling Dr. Ohrt’s horrific and damaging sexual abuse despite knowing that he was a dangerous child-predator for decades preceding the abuse.
Mr. Calderaio provided critical information to law enforcement that led to Ohrt’s successful criminal prosecution. In May of 2023, a Bucks County Court of Common Pleas Court judge sentenced Ohrt to state prison and required him to register as a sexual offender prison for criminal conduct targeting Mr. Calderaio and other former students. Mr. Calderaio stated that “Ohrt exploited my vulnerabilities and hijacked my psychological operations. He invaded my life. He has invaded my future. He has invaded my mind. He has invaded my soul. He stole many years from me, that I will not get back. I wish the District yelled ‘Danger!! Stay Away!’, instead of permitting Ohrt to have one on one sexual access to me during a District-approved independent study and at other times throughout my school day.”
According to Attorney Shubin, a State College-based attorney who represented multiple Penn State child sexual abuse victims, Mr. Calderaio had the “incredible courage” to report the abuse to law enforcement which prompted them to conduct a criminal investigation resulting in the surfacing of other Ohrt victims. Dr. Ohrt was convicted of various sexual offenses, sent to state prison, and is now a registered sexual offender.
Attorney Shubin stated that “this lawsuit is an important step in seeking to hold the District accountable for their role in failing to protect John from Ohrt’s sexual abuse despite knowing he had a history of sexually abusing students dating back to the early 90’s.” Attorney Shubin added, “the District betrayed Mr. Calderaio and the school community. The community gave the school its children and trust and the District gave Dr. Ohrt the ammunition essential to abuse – access and indifference. It is painful to think about how many children could have been saved had District officials cared more about the kids than the School’s or their own reputations.”
According to the complaint, the District knew that Joseph Ohrt, an award winning and venerated teacher known for “mentoring” the District’s most talented music students, engaged in unchecked, predatory behavior toward its male students since the early 1990’s. The District covered up the abuse and “passed its trash” by moving Ohrt to a different school instead of firing him or reporting his child sexual abuse crimes to the police.
Between 2013 and 2016, Dr. Ohrt groomed, then methodically abused, John Calderaio during his sophomore, junior and senior years and following graduation. Ohrt used his school office to abuse John throughout the school day. Ohrt’s use of his office in a remote band area of the high school to abuse John came at the same time that Central Bucks District middle school band teacher Bridgett Szychulski was criminally prosecuted for using a remote storage closet in the band area to abuse a 14-year-old student.
Mr. Calderaio stated: “I am coming forward today, not just for me, and not just for Dr. Ohrt’s other victims, but also for the countless other child sexual abuse survivors who, like me, face overwhelming, lifetime struggles and who, like me, believed that asking for help, even from the adults that are charged with protecting children, would be futile and met with hostility and demeaning retaliation.” Calderaio continued, “Dr. Ohrt chose to make me his victim because he knew that my home life was tumultuous and that school officials, who had received prior reports that he sexually abused another student, would callously turn a blind eye to obvious sexual abuse danger signs. I am coming forward today because no child should ever have to endure what I did and no institution, no matter how powerful, should be permitted to benefit from their complicit silence by escaping justice.”
For more information or an interview, please contact: