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Meadowmount settles liability suit

LEWIS - The Meadowmount School of Music has come to an agreement with a former student who filed a lawsuit claiming the school's director, Owen Carman, committed sexual misconduct against him while he was studying music there.

Effective Nov. 17, Meadowmount School of Music has been removed as a defendant in the suit, which endangered the school's ability to continue its 60-plus year tradition of teaching some of the world's most promising young musicians.

The lawsuit, filed in Bronx Supreme Court in February 2008, claimed that Carman first had sexual relations with the boy, then 16, at the school during the summer of 2005.

The male student, who is not being identified because he was a minor at the time the alleged misconduct took place, claims in his lawsuit, "Mr. Carman agreed to help [the boy] in his career in exchange for sexual activity with [the boy]."

The plaintiff claims Carman's actions caused him mental trauma that led to hospitalization, suicide attempts, and other destructive behavior. The suit seeks an unspecified amount in excess of $25,000.

Meadowmount was named as a secondary defendant alongside Carman on the basis that the school was liable for Carman's actions within his capacity as director. The lawsuit also urged for an injunction that would have barred the school from teaching minors.

Counsel for Meadowmount, Frederic Gallin of the New York City law firm Methfessel & Werbel, confirmed that the school had settled with the plaintiff, but stressed that it should in no way be interpreted as an admission of wrongdoing.

Gallin said it was the Meadowmount's insurance company, whom he directly represents, that likely made the decision on whether to settle. The terms of the settlement remain undisclosed, but it seems the school is finally free from the legal crossfire.

"My client is satisfied that this issue is behind them," said Gallin. "I think the school wants to do what they do best, which is teach good musicians."

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