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Orient businessman faces new allegations of sexual assault from a former family babysitter

An Orient businessman convicted five years ago of sexually abusing a family member is facing newly raised allegations of sexual misconduct from around the same time, according to a civil complaint filed by a former family babysitter.

The new lawsuit alleges that in August 2015 Steven Mezynieski drove a 14-year-old family babysitter from his Orient home late one night and allowed her to sit on his lap and drive his vehicle, eventually steering the truck to a “desolate road,” where he put his hands up her shirt, massaging her bare back and fondling her breasts without consent, court records show.

The victim, a North Fork resident who is now 20 years old, filed the lawsuit under the Child Victims Act, a special law that for two years allowed child sex abuse victims in New York State to file claims for incidents that occurred years earlier. While the claims period expired in mid-August, a Suffolk County judge ruled last month that the complaint against Mr. Mezynieski could continue.

In a court filing Oct. 8, Mr. Mezynieski and his wife Gretchen, who is named as a co-defendant in the case, denied the allegations leveled against them, which include a claim that Mr. Mezynieski asked the babysitter to cuddle with him in a hotel bed during a trip to Florida in Spring 2015. The victim said Mr. Mezynieski also repeatedly told her she was “beautiful,” “pretty” and would make “a great actress” when she got older. The victim said she worked for the family from 2012 to 2015 and Ms. Mezynieski was complicit in allowing her husband’s behavior to continue, according to the complaint.

The latest civil complaint was filed by the same New Jersey law firm representing a family member in an ongoing civil suit against Mr. Mezynieski, stemming from the criminal case against him. In the new case, the victim is seeking unspecified damages for sexual assault, unlawful imprisonment and infliction of emotional distress, among other allegations.

Mr. Mezynieski, who has owned farms in Orient and Calverton and an excavating company in Southampton, was arrested by New York State police in August 2016 after a teenage family member said he repeatedly raped her over the course of several years. After initially being charged with a pair of felonies that carried a possible prison sentence of up to 25 years, including rape, Mr. Mezynieski accepted a plea offer in 2017 to a misdemeanor charge of sexual abuse, avoiding jail time and the possibility of being placed on the state’s sex offender registry.

The Mezynieskis were due to appear in court Wednesday for a pre-trial conference in the first civil case, which was filed in 2017.