Former Claremont Mayor George Caccavaro will serve two months in jail for sexually assaulting a disabled woman he was supervising as a paraeducator.
“It shouldn’t matter who you are and what positions you held before, it’s not OK to take advantage of our special children,” said the woman’s mother.
The victim in the case is non-verbal and learns at the same level as a student in kindergarten, according to her mother. She attended Stevens High School at age 20 for lessons on basic life skills when she first encountered Caccavaro, then 78.
Newport District Court Judge Bruce Cardello described Caccavaro as a respected member of the community, a former Claremont mayor, police commissioner, school board member and successful business owner.
“The defendant is apparently a good man, husband and father who has led a productive life. But he is a good man who did something that was wrong, that he knew was wrong. That was a crime and, in fact, he knew better,” Cardello said.
Caccavaro was arrested in October and charged with two misdemeanor counts of sexual assault for the incident which took place in February 2019. He ended up pleading guilty to two counts of simple assault earlier this year. Cardello said the assaults were sexual in nature, though Caccavaro is considered a low-risk to reoffend.
Assistant Sullivan County Attorney Christine Hilliard wanted Caccavaro jailed for six months while Caccavaro’s attorney George Ostler asked for no jail time on Monday. Cardello instead sentenced Caccavaro to two months in jail, two years of probation and 100 hours of community service.
The victim’s mother said her daughter has changed since the assault and has lost interest in things that used to make her happy.
“My daughter has nightmares and she’s not the same anymore,” the mother said through tears.
Caccavaro was retired before he started part-time work at Stevens as a paraeducator. He was told by the administration at the high school to stay away from the victim in the fall of 2018, after he was seen by other staff members kissing her, according to court records. Caccavaro used to buy the woman lunches and other gifts, according to her mother.
Ostler said he did that to help the woman out when she would come to school without a lunch.
“He was a good mentor,” Ostler said.
In February 2019, Caccavaro took the victim and another developmentally disabled student to an off-campus volunteering opportunity at an animal shelter. It was here that Caccavaro groped the woman, grabbed her from behind, and thrust his hips into her, according to the court record. Animal shelter staff witnessed the incident and contacted the school, according to the court record.
The woman’s mother expressed shock that Caccavaro would commit the assault in such a public space.
“For him to do this so openly makes me wonder how long he has done this type of stuff, and if she is the only one he’s done this with,” the mother said.
Caccavaro was fired from the school after the incident came to light, and police started an investigation. In an interview with police, Caccavaro took responsibility for the incident.
“Did I do it because my 18-year-old libido came back?” Caccavaro reportedly said during the police interview. “It felt good and I became the 18-year-old again.”
Caccavaro followed the police interview by sending two emails to Claremont police stating that he was sorry for what had happened, according to the affidavit.
“Obviously I knew that what I did was wrong and self-serving but chose to ignore that fact,” he wrote in one of the emails.
Caccavaro will have the remaining 10 months of his sentence suspended for the next 10 years. Caccavaro did not speak during the hearing, and the victim’s grandmother also declined to make a statement.
“It’s not nice what I would have to say and I would go to jail,” the grandmother said.
Caccavaro is the former CEO of the Cone-Blanchard machine company in Vermont and also worked as the business administrator for the Mascoma School District after he retired from Cone-Blanchard. He was working as the business administrator for the Newport School District at the time of his arrest in October. He is no longer employed by the Newport district.