Women file lawsuits against director, theaters alleging sexual abuse


Lawsuits filed this month in Waterbury Superior Court by three women claim a Southington theater director used his position in three community theaters to sexually assault them when they were teenagers.

They allege Daniel Checovetes, 42, sexually assaulted them as teenagers after meeting them while they participated in and prepared for theatrical performances at various venues.

The lawsuits name the Naugatuck Teen Theater, Landmark Community Theatre Inc. in Thomaston, Northwest Connecticut Association for the Arts Inc. and the Warner Theatre in Torrington, the Thomaston Opera House Commission, the town of Thomaston and Checovetes as defendants.

The lawsuits filed by attorney Jason E. Tremont are separate but similar. Attorney Tim Ramsey, who works with Tremont, said Monday two of the women filed complaints with police “some years later,” but no investigations were launched and no arrests were made.

The three women, then 14 to 17 years old and now in their 20s, have agreed to have their names used in legal documents, Ramsey said. The Citizen’s News does not publish the names of alleged sexual assault victims.

“Knowing what happened, they don’t want it to happen to anyone else,” Ramsey said. “The types of things that happened were horrific. It was nonconsensual sexual assault.”

The defendants declined to comment.

“The Warner is unable to comment on pending legal matters but we are fully cooperating with the principals involved in this case,” said Brian E. Mattiello, chairman of the Warner’s board of directors.

Robert Rosa, chairman of the Naugatuck Teen Theater, declined to comment. The theater, founded in 1995, is a nonprofit organization. Its productions are open to high school and middle school students.

One woman contends she met Checovetes in 2015 through a production at the Landmark Theatre, and he sexually assaulted her in 2015 and 2016. Another claimed she met Checovetes in 2008 and he sexually assaulted them in 2009 and 2010.

Checovetes did not return a message seeking comment. He has no pending criminal cases or convictions, according to state judicial records.

Asked whether criminal charges could still be lodged, Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Terri L. Sonnemann in Torrington said each case would need to be investigated separately. Criminal charges would depend on the teens’ ages, alleged sexual acts and any statutes of limitations that apply.

Thomaston First Selectman Edward Mone declined to comment Monday, saying only that he is aware the suits were filed and are “in the hands of attorneys.” The theater in Thomaston is part of the Town Hall complex.

The lawsuits say the sexual assaults occurred on the grounds of the theaters, in private rooms within them, as well as at other locations. The women are suing the theaters for allowing Checovetes to act freely with minors, and for failing to prevent the sexual assaults. They allege the theaters knew or should have known that he was sexually assaulting the teens and “had a propensity to sexually abuse and/or sexually assault and/or sexually exploit minor females.”

“It was commonly known” among theater participants that Checovetes had “unusual relationships” with minors, the lawsuits claim, also contending that the Naugatuck Teen Theater and Landmark Theatre knew that some their employees were arrested and convicted of possession of child pornography before the alleged assaults occurred.

In a complaint against all three of the theaters, Checovetes is accused of causing “serious and permanent injury and damage” exacerbated and intensified by a lack of timely treatment.

Checovetes most recently worked with the Little Theatre of Manchester, which suspended its relationship with him indefinitely after learning of the allegations. A statement issued by the theater said Checovetes worked with adult volunteers and his role didn’t directly put him in a position to oversee or to be alone with minors. The statement said there have been no allegations or observations of inappropriate behavior with Checovetes at the Little Theatre of Manchester, but the theater decided to sever ties with him.

“LTM takes allegations of this nature very seriously and prides itself on providing a safe and secure space for our staff, volunteers, artist and creative personnel,” the statement read.

Ramsey said Checovetes has until the end of January for an attorney to file an appearance notice on his behalf or to notify the court that he will represent himself.

The suit is seeking monetary damages in excess of $15,000.