A civil lawsuit filed Thursday against an Orient farmer accused of sexual abuse includes disturbing allegations that he raped and abused a teenage family member routinely for more than four years.
Driftwood Farms owner Steven Mezynieski, 44, was arrested last August by state police and charged with first-degree rape and first-degree criminal sex act for allegedly restraining the girl with rope and abusing her.
He pleaded not guilty and claimed innocence. If convicted of the top criminal charge, Mr. Mezynieski would face up to 25 years in prison.
Mr. Mezynieski allegedly first abused the teen repeatedly during a 2011 vacation to Florida, when she was 15 years old, according to the civil suit filed on the victim’s behalf in Suffolk County Supreme Court.
Mr. Mezynieski allegedly “groomed” the victim — whose identity was not disclosed in court documents — by taking her on coerced trips to buy lingerie and get haircuts. He also regularly forced the victim to drink alcohol to the point of drunkenness, according to the allegations.
On Friday, the Manhattan-based attorney for the victim, Rosemarie Arnold, said, “In the 30 years I’ve been practicing law, I don’t think I’ve come across a set of facts that is so egregious and so disturbing. What this man did to this child, who trusted him, is despicable and sick.”
The victim is seeking monetary damages for “severe and permanent injuries both mental and physical,” “severe emotional distress” and to pay for “medical aid and treatment.” The suit also names Mr. Mezynieski’s wife, Gretchen Sontag-Mezynieski, as a defendant, claiming she helped to cover up her husband’s actions.
Mr. Mezynieski’s criminal defense attorneys, Edward Burke Jr. of Sag Harbor and Steve Scaring of Garden City, said in a statement to The Suffolk Times the allegations were “bizarre and completely unfounded.”
The two added the allegations were “intended to support false claims for money damages and thus smear our client’s good name. We will defend this lawsuit vigorously and not be subjected to a financial shakedown.”
The suit claims that Mr. Mezynieski abused the victim “at least twice a week” throughout the summer of 2011 at his Orient home, including fondling her in her bed at night. The lawsuit claims the abuse continued for years, sometimes while Mr. Mezynieski’s wife and young children were nearby.
On occasions “too numerous to list,” the suit claims, Mr. Mezynieski put a blanket over the victim’s head, and once put a pillow on her face.
While the abuse continued, Mr. Mezynieski allegedly gave the victim money and more than $1,500 worth of items from clothing stores like Gilly Hicks, Victoria’s Secret, Aerie, Abercrombie & Fitch and Forever21.
Years later, the victim claims that Mr. Mezynieski threatened that no one would believe her allegations if she reported them to police and that it would hurt her family. During one assault, the victim started screaming and Mr. Mezynieski allegedly began choking her.
The abuse continued for another year and a half, according to the lawsuit. After the victim went to police last summer, Mr. Mezynieski allegedly gave her mother an envelope containing $15,000 cash, which the family turned over to police.
The lawsuit also claims Mr. Mezynieski was recorded admitting to the rapes in a conversation with the victim.
According to online court records, Mr. Mezynieski has not yet responded to the civil lawsuit. He remains free on $25,000 bail and is due back in town court Feb. 10.