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Feb 6, 2017 12:57 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Lawsuit Filed Against Local Business Owner Details Allegations Of Sexual Abuse

Feb 6, 2017 1:21 PM

A lawsuit was filed on Thursday, February 2, by the attorney representing a teenage victim who claims she was sexually abused by the owner of a Southampton-based excavation company between 2011 and 2014. The suit includes documents that outline the startling allegations that led to his arrest on related criminal charges in August.

Steven Mezynieski, 55, who is the owner of Steve Mezynieski Inc., based in Southampton Village, was accused of tying up a teenager and sexually assaulting her at his farm in Orient. State Police charged Mr. Mezynieski in August with first-degree rape and committing a criminal sex act in the first degree, both Class B felonies. If found guilty on a Class B felony, a defendant in New York State can face up to 25 years in prison. The criminal case is still pending.

According to the civil lawsuit filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Suffolk County on Thursday by Manhattan-based attorney Rosemarie Arnold, the victim, referred to in the suit as Jane Doe, was identified as a family member. The suit claims that the sexual abuse began when she was 15 years old.

The complaint offers a litany of allegations of escalating sexual assault, beginning with inappropriate comments and unwanted fondling, and resulting in intercourse.

Sag Harbor-based attorney Edward Burke Jr., who is representing Mr. Mezynieski in the criminal case, echoed his statements when his client had first been arrested, calling the “bold assertions” in the civil lawsuit untrue.

More than twice, the suit claims that Mr. Mezynieski covered the victim’s face with a pillow while raping her and tied her up using rope. On a separate occasion, Mr. Mezynieski fondled the victim under a blanket in front of his wife and two children and paid her $100 periodically to make her feel helpless, according to the suit.

“These are bizarre and completely unfounded allegations intended to support false claims for money damages, and to smear my client’s good name,” Mr. Burke said on Friday, noting that he likely will be involved in the legal defense of the civil claim as well.

The lawsuit claims that in 2011, at the age of 15, the victim was “groomed” by Mr. Mezynieski and singled out for special treatment, taking her for haircuts and shopping sprees at the mall, the suit says.

In one instance, in 2012, the suit alleges that Mr. Mezynieski took the victim shopping at Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, and purchased about $1,500 worth of clothes and other items from shops like Gilly Hicks, Aerie, Hollister, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Forever 21. That same day, the suit alleges, he purchased a lace bra from Victoria’s Secret and two blue “Neon Luv Touch Vibe” vibrators from Spencer’s and gave them to the victim. On numerous occasions following the shopping spree, Mr. Mezynieski would ask, “How are your two blue friends doing?” according to the suit.

She was taken on family trips to Florida, and multiple times was taken aside and abused, according to the suit. On shorter trips, to places like Fire Island, Mr. Mezynieski allegedly gave the teen alcohol and forced her to get drunk before abusing her, the suit alleges.

On multiple occasions, according to the suit, Mr. Mezynieski and his wife, Gretchen Sontag-Mezynieski, who is a co-defendant in the civil lawsuit, would come home intoxicated after a night of drinking, and Ms. Sontag-Mezynieski would be in the room while the victim was abused. The suit also claims that Mr. Mezynieski’s son and daughter, who were 9 and 5 at the time, were in the room on occasion.

The victim is seeking monetary relief in the civil suit, although the amounts have not been specified, according to Ms. Arnold.

“We will defend this lawsuit vigorously and will not be subjected to a financial shakedown,” Mr. Burke said.

Though Mr. Mezynieski was arrested in August 2016 on felony charges, an indictment has not yet been handed up.

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