The family of the boy former Saybrook College Master Antonio C. Lasaga molested now has the right to search for $3 million worth of Lasaga’s assets.
This finding, which came as a pre-judgment remedy imposed against Lasaga last Monday in civil court, marks the beginning of a lawsuit initiated by the boy’s family against the former Yale professor. In civil cases, a pre-judgment remedy grants the plaintiff access to the defendant’s assets so that they can eventually be used to satisfy the final monetary judgment.
“The goal at this point is to find his assets, some of which could be hidden,” said Frederick J. Trotta, the attorney for the boy and his mother. “We’re looking for bank accounts and future rights to his scholarly textbooks, among other things.”
Trotta is going to have to look very hard. Lasaga’s nearly four-year journey through the criminal justice system has reduced the former professor to a pauper. In fact, the mandatory $250,000 fine Lasaga received in February at his federal sentencing for two child pornography convictions was waived because of his inability to pay.
Diane Polan, Lasaga’s attorney in the criminal trials, said his extensive legal bills have essentially bankrupted him.
“There’s nothing left,” Polan said. “And you can’t get blood from a stone.”
The boy’s mother originally filed her complaint in October 1999 but had to wait until the end of Lasaga’s criminal cases to begin the trial process. The remedy itself was made public only on Friday.
In the past month, Lasaga has received a 20-year sentence in state court for sexually assaulting the boy — whom the former professor was mentoring through a New Haven Public Schools program — as well as a concurrent 15-year federal sentence for possession and receipt of child pornography.
Now that the criminal proceedings are essentially complete, the civil trial may begin.
The boy and his mother also sued the city of New Haven and Yale, which they allege worked in tandem to implement the mentoring program in which Lasaga participated.
The lawsuit alleges that the New Haven Board of Education failed to investigate the professor’s background and “allowed Lasaga to use his position as a mentor to cultivate his perversion.”
Corporation Counsel Thomas Ude, the head of the city’s legal department, disputed the family’s allegations.
“There was nothing that would have told any reasonable person at the Board of Education that anything improper was happening,” Ude said. “We will be looking to file a motion to get rid of [this case] before it goes to trial.”
University General Counsel Dorothy Robinson was unavailable for comment over the weekend.