NJ City and Fire Department Liable for Child Sex Assault 30 Years Ago

A New Jersey jury has found the City of Perth Amboy and the Perth Amboy Fire Department liable for a series of sexual assaults perpetrated thirty years ago by a firefighter on a 12-year-old boy. The firefighter, Hugo Fleites, was sentenced to ten years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual assault in 2019.

The victim, now 44, filed suit under a unique New Jersey law that extended the statute of limitation for cases of sexual abuse. The Middlesex County Superior Court jury concluded that the city and fire department were negligent in their supervision and training of personnel, and awarded the victim $331,000 in damages.

According to My Central Jersey, the parties had agreed prior to the verdict that the total award would be $450,000 if the plaintiff prevailed. In a separate lawsuit decided back in 2020, Fleites was ordered to pay the victim $4.75 Million. Fleites was in prison at the time, and defaulted on the claim.

My Central Jersey quoted the victim’s attorney, Jay Mascolo, as saying:

  • We are pleased that the jury found this public entity responsible for a lack of supervision and training that contributed to this horrible story.
  • Hopefully this verdict reinforces the concept to any organization that it must properly supervise all employees and facilities and train its employees as to risks and signs of child sexual abuse.
  • My client is pleased to have some form of legal closure in this matter, although the scars will remain with him long after this verdict. 

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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