The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Monday, April 18, 2011
Judge sanctions school in child sex case; SNAP responds
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Let those who conceal child sex crimes take note of this important ruling. Police, prosecutors, judges and juries are slowly but increasingly punishing powerful individuals who protect child predators instead of innocent kids.
Principals, bishops, coaches, camp directors, defense lawyers, school boards should heed this warning: you can no longer intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, discredit whistleblowers, destroy evidence, and keep your complicity hidden. As Martin Luther King said “No lie lives forever.” And the ‘shelf life’ for child sex crimes and cover ups is getting shorter and shorter.
We applaud these brave men who are exposing corruption at Poly Prep. By their courage, they are helping to deter future recklessness, callousness and deceit. Kids will be safer because of their wise decision to seek justice in court and hold wrongdoers accountable. We commend them for their bravery and tenacity.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Misconduct in Sex-Abuse Lawsuit Raises Eyebrows
By ADAM KLASFELD
MANHATTAN (CN) - A federal judge slapped sanctions against Brooklyn's Poly Prep Country Day School, its trustees, and its current and former headmasters for withholding or destroying evidence related to allegations that the school's late football coach, Philip Foglietta, committed serial sexual molestation.
In e-mails to Courthouse News, a lawyer for former students said his clients were "heartened" by the decision, while Poly Prep's attorneys hinted they might challenge the sanctions.
In an Oct. 26, 2009, complaint, seven alumni accused the elite prep school of violating anti-racketeering law engaging in a cover-up of a coach's "horrific sexual abuse," which crossed state lines, since 1966. The alumni said Foglietta "sexually abused dozens, if not hundreds, of boys," and that drug abuse, suicide attempts, relationship troubles and alcoholism later plagued many of Foglietta's victims.
Two more have joined the suit since that time, and court documents say six more alleged victims have been identified for "Attorneys' Eyes Only."
Although Poly Prep now admit Foglietta was fired for sexual misconduct, at the time the school honored Foglietta with a "lavish retirement dinner" attended by 500 people and even set up a memorial fund in his name after he died in 1998, court documents say.
William M. Williams and David B. Harman, the school's former and current headmasters, respectively, are also named as defendants in the RICO action, along with unnamed members of Poly Prep's Board of Trustees.
In a 2002 letter to alumni, Harman wrote, "Unfortunately, we have recently received credible allegations that such abuse occurred at Poly Prep more than twenty years ago by a faculty member/coach, who is now deceased."
After receiving a settlement demand from an alumnus, Poly Prep hired attorney Peter Sheridan to launch a privileged and confidential investigation into the allegations. Sheridan claimed that investigation showed that the school's faculty and staff reported no firsthand knowledge of abuse.
Poly Prep's current lawyers with O'Melveny & Myers did not put a litigation hold on the notes before Sheridan had disposed of them, according to an 80-page order filed on Wednesday.
In that document, U.S. District Judge Cheryl Pollak wrote that the disappearance of the notes "constitutes negligence at best," and she ordered unspecified "reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees and costs."
The alumni say that the Sheridan notes are only one example of documents destroyed or discarded by the defendants.
In 1970, former headmaster Williams received two anonymous letters saying Foglietta was "doing terrible things to your children," and received other letters in faculty mailboxes in 1991, the order states.
Williams said in depositions that the letter in the mailbox contained "something nasty about Foglietta. I don't remember what it was."
When asked why he threw it out, he replied, "I assumed - I don't know. I guess - I don't know. I can't guess. I don't know."
Pollak was dubious about Williams' answers, but she rejected the alumni's motion to declare he had perpetrated a "fraud upon the court."
"Although it does appear that there are many inconsistencies in Williams' deposition testimony and handwritten notes, and there are many things that he could not recall, the Court finds that plaintiffs have failed, at this time, to provide sufficient evidence to show that Mr. Williams intentionally perjured himself. In the errata sheet, Mr. Williams attempted to clarify some of the things about which he had been mistaken," Pollak said.
Attorneys will submit affidavits to determine the cost of the sanctions on May 13, and discovery will conclude at the end of that month.
Attorneys for Poly Prep, meanwhile, hinted that they may challenge the sanctions.
"We are currently reviewing the judge's order with our client and will determine the best course of action following that review," Jeffrey Kohn of O'Melveny & Myers said in an e-mail. "In light of the facts that we described to the court, we believe our firm acted properly in connection with the handling of discovery in this matter."
The alumni's lawyer, on the other hand, hailed the decision.
"Plaintiffs are most heartened by Judge Pollak's well-reasoned decision," attorney Kevin T. Mulhearn wrote. "We look forward to proceeding with discovery," he added
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests