Former Ellenville student raped by teacher hopes settlement against district brings changes in schools
Behind the headlines, mug shots and details of disturbing behavior was a young girl who now has a voice.
“I was abused by a teacher. “He was very good at playing this savior role model that was taking me under his wing," says Amanda DeJesus.
The now 30-year-old woman was a 17-year-old Ellenville High School senior when her teacher and coach, 39-year-old Tom Nolan, began sexually assaulting her for more than a year while she baby sat his kids.
“He would sneak touches here and there in school, keep me in his class every free period I got," says DeJesus.
The Pine Bush woman says Nolan started grooming her at age 14 and that she stayed silent about the abuse until her mom saw their texts and alerted police.
Nolan was sentenced to prison for 2 and ½ years in 2010 for rape.
DeJesus filed a lawsuit against the Ellenville school district for negligence in 2020, claiming administration knew she was being abused but did nothing to stop it.
“They cared more about keeping him as a teacher and keeping their image over protecting me," says DeJesus.
Court documents allege administrators told Nolan to “limit interactions on school grounds” with DeJesus and seek “psychological counseling” when staff raised red flags.
“They were seen leaving the school together all the time, she was seen driving his car," said Martin Rutberg, Dejesus' attorney. “There was a whistleblower who expressly warned school administration about that teacher.”
The district settled the suit for an undisclosed amount in April. Their attorney issued a statement to News 12 saying they hope the resolution brings with it closure.
DeJesus says she hopes Ellenville and other school districts will learn from her painful experience and implement changes to help other students. “I just really want to focus on making sure the school makes the changes they need to make and train the people that they need to train so this doesn’t happen again,” says DeJesus.