By Dakota Antelman and Laura Hayes
HUDSON – Schools superintendent Marco Rodrigues called the alleged conduct of former teacher Caitlin Harding “abhorrent and intolerable,” in a statement to the Community Advocate, Oct. 15.
That came three days after a former student sued Harding, the Town of Hudson and a number of former district administrators in connection with a pattern of sexual assaults that they said Harding perpetrated while working at Hudson’s JFK Middle School.
“We are extremely surprised and disappointed to learn of the highly disturbing allegations against former middle school teacher Caitlyn Harding, who was employed several years ago as a teacher in the Hudson Public Schools,” Rodrigues wrote.
“The alleged conduct, if true, is abhorrent and intolerable by any adult, and most certainly by a teacher,” he continued.
Rodrigues noted that Harding “voluntarily left her position in Hudson in June 2013.”
Rodrigues did not begin working in Hudson until 2017. JFK, meanwhile, closed in 2013. It was replaced by Quinn Middle School.
The suit, filed on Oct. 12 in Norfolk County Superior Court, named Harding as a defendant alongside the Town of Hudson, former Superintendent Kevin Lyons, former JFK Middle School Principal Brian Daniels and current Quinn Middle School Assistant Principal Matthew Gaffny. An unidentified “Defendant Six” was also listed. They were said to be an individual or individuals, some unknown to the plaintiff, that had a supervisory responsibility over Harding.
A civil complaint filed with the court detailed a long list of alleged interactions between Harding and the student.
It, in turn, came after Harding was already indicted on a number of criminal charges earlier this year.
Filings in that criminal case further detail alleged sexual assaults by Harding.
The civil complaint alleges that Gaffny and other school staff met with the student’s parents during the 2009-2010 school year “about Plaintiff spending so much time in Defendant Harding’s classroom and Defendant Harding’s attentions to Plaintiff.”
The student allegedly had classes moved to a different part of the middle school building following that meeting. Harding, meanwhile, remained employed by the district through the 2013 school year.
“At no time during or after her employment in Hudson have we ever received information indicating that she engaged in conduct that involved any degree of potential or actual harm to students,” Rodrigues wrote, this week. “Had we received indication of such conduct while she was employed here, Hudson Schools would have taken swift and decisive action, and had we learned of it during the ensuing eight years after she left, we would have immediately reported it to law enforcement and to DESE.”
The plaintiff in the civil case against Harding is being represented by Attorney Mitchell Garabedian.
Garabedian has spent much of his career representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse. He earned particular recognition for his work on cases involving members of the clergy beginning in the 1990s and 2000s.
Defendants in this case had not been formally served papers as of Oct. 15 according to state records.
“We do not, and will not, tolerate any behavior by employees that jeopardizes the health, safety, and welfare of our students,” Rodrigues said in his statement.
“We also have in place a system that requires prompt reporting of, and response to, conduct that could jeopardize a student’s safety,” he added.