NIAGARA FALLS – While there appeared to be enough evidence to move forward with a sexual misconduct case involving three girls against 79th Street Elementary School Principal Patrick Kuciewski, there was not enough time.
“The charges had merit, but it couldn’t be pursued because the statute of limitations had run out,” Police Superintendent E. Bryan DalPorto said about allegations against the principal.
“It’s a disturbing situation, but what can we do?” said Capt. William Thomson, chief of detectives. “We’ve had contact with three victims, but they all fall under the statute of limitations.”
Thomson said the victims reported being in consenting relationships with him at least 15 years ago. Few details were available about the alleged incidents. It was not clear how old the victims were or whether they were students.
Niagara Falls School Attorney Angelo Massaro told The Buffalo News in June that the alleged incidents did not involve the 79th Street School or school community, but “apparently happened years ago.”
According to his district’s posted biography, Kuciewski, known to his students as “Mr. K,” has been with the district for 31 years and previously had been an administrator of the VC House at Niagara Falls High School, assistant principal at Gaskill Middle and Harry F. Abate Elementary schools, and program coordinator for the 21st Century Community Learning Center at Niagara Falls High School.
As a teacher, he was director of instrumental music at Niagara Middle School and LaSalle Senior High School. He was recently the director of the Niagara University pep band and performs as a professional percussionist.
Authorities said Tuesday that none of the reports of sexual misconduct against him involved force or compulsion, which means a five-year statute of limitations applied.
The statute of limitations begins after a victim’s 18th birthday. There is a two-year statute of limitations for misdemeanors.
Allegations of sexual misconduct came to light against Kuciewski on June 10, and he was put on paid administrative leave while the school district reviewed the matter.
Kuciewski remained on administrative leave Tuesday, and the school district is “nearing completion” of its own internal review, Massaro said.
DalPorto said Tuesday that police consulted with the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office and found they were unable to lay charges in the case. That forced them to close the case last week.
DalPorto said they conducted a number of interviews regarding the case.
“We felt that if the statute of limitations had not run out, we would have been able to file for charges. Based on our investigation, we would have been able to substantiate charges,” DalPorto said.
He was unwilling to discuss any specifics of the case, but he said that if any other victims came forward police would revisit the entire case.
News Staff Reporter Aaron Besecker contributed to this report. email: firstname.lastname@example.org