Attorney: Claims of no harm to preschool children are ‘untrue’

An attorney representing a child whose parents reported concerns about former Wilton preschool worker Eric Von Kohorn in 2013 said in a statement emailed to The Bulletin today that “repeated misstatements made by Wilton Public Schools present additional risks to the well-being of children.”

Attorney Paul Slager, of Silver Golub & Teitell in Stamford, says his client’s knowledge of January 2013 events involving their child are inconsistent with the schools’ public statement on the matter.

“The inconsistencies between Dr. [Kevin] Smith’s statements and Wilton Public Schools’ own reports involving this family’s complaints reveals that Dr. Smith’s recent written statements and verbal reassurances are dangerously misleading, if not knowingly false,” the statement says.

Dr. Kevin Smith, in response to Mr. Slager’s statement, said Thursday afternoon he was distraught that a family would conclude he was misleading the community regarding the preschool worker.

My intentions from the start have been to share as much information as possible and to create a process that is highly responsive to any family that has concerns about any interactions their children may have had with Mr. Von Kohorn. In no way am I attempting to minimize any concerns,” he said in an email to The Bulletin.

According to the attorney, the schools’ statement that there was “no reason to believe” Mr. Von Kohorn had harmed any children is “demonstrably untrue.”

“In January 2013, the family I represent notified representatives of the Wilton Public Schools that their child, a preschool student, told them Von Kohorn had inappropriately touched the child while assisting in toileting. The parents also reported to Wilton Public Schools that their child’s complaints of inappropriate touching were corroborated by physical symptoms in the genital area,” Mr. Slager’s statement says.

These reports, the attorney said, are documented in a written report generated by the Wilton Preschool Services in January 2013.

Mr. Slager also says Wilton schools’ statement that Mr. Von Kohorn was not involved in the toileting of the child was untrue.

Mr. Slager wrote, “Another Wilton Preschool Services report about the incident noted that Von Kohorn was interviewed and admitted he was involved in taking the child into the bathroom, but claimed he remained outside the stall. This is a flagrant violation of Wilton Public Schools’ written protocols, which strictly prohibited Von Kohorn from entering the bathroom with the child, who was toilet trained, and instead required him to stand outside of the bathroom.”

Additionally, according to Mr. Slager, Mr. Von Kohorn said during the investigation other preschool staff members were aware he had entered the bathroom with the child, “although the staff members themselves denied this knowledge.”

Dr. Smith also said Thursday because the Board of Education takes parents concerns seriously, schools have asked Wilton police and the Department of Children and Families to “conduct investigations as concerns are presented, and we’ve asked both agencies to start by looking into the concerns of the family to whom the attorney refers.

“My hope is that we can strongly support families and learn the truth,” he continued. “I am firmly committed to working with this family, and with all families, to ensure that they are supported, their concerns are addressed and that the record is accurate.”

The family Mr. Slager represents was under no legal requirement to disclose this information to the public, but chose to do so as they consider the case a “public health” problem, the attorney said by phone Thursday afternoon.

“While going through this painful process, however, they feel morally compelled to correct misleading statements made by Wilton Public Schools,” Mr. Slager’s statement reads. “If allowed to stand uncorrected, Wilton Public Schools’ statements could potentially cause harm to Wilton children. This family believes that ensuring that the community understands the true facts is both necessary and in the best interests of the Wilton community.”