News and information regarding lawsuits and litigation for victims of sexual assault and abuse. Authored by sexual assault victim's attorney, Steven M. Sweat (California sexual assault and abuse victims attorneys and lawyers). For more information go to:
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Sexual Abuse in Schools Lawsuit May Proceed Says Judge
Judge will allow Poly Prep sex-abuse lawsuit to proceed, but throws out RICO claims made by all but two plaintiffs
U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block wrote - in what could be considered as a legal victory for the victims of abuse - he would green-light the case because officials may have lied about knowledge of the alleged actions.
In a startling court order that could be a watershed moment for survivors of childhood sex abuse, a federal judge said Tuesday he will allow portions of an explosive lawsuit to proceed against Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn.
U.S. District Court Judge Frederic Block wrote he would green-light the case because officials may have lied when they claimed they only learned in 1991 that a longtime football coach had allegedly molested boys for several decades.
Block said Poly Prep's attempts to have the lawsuit dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired falls flat because administrators might have deceived 10 former students and two day campers who claimed they were sexually abused by coach Phil Foglietta.
"Central to plaintiffs' claims in the present case are their allegations that Poly Prep engaged in an affirmative course of conduct during the period of limitations to deceive the plaintiffs into believing that they had no claim against Poly Prep because the school had no knowledge of Foglietta's wrongdoing…Foglietta was consistently portrayed to the plaintiffs as a reputable and esteemed football coach throughout the limitations period (1966-1991)," Block wrote in Tuesday's order.
The school's "deceitful conduct" may have led the plaintiffs to believe that Poly Prep officials were unaware of Foglietta's alleged sexual abuse and could not be liable for negligently retaining or supervising the accused predator, Block added.
"The plaintiffs are extremely heartened by Judge Block's decision and think this is a watershed moment for survivors of childhood sexual abuse," said Kevin Mulhearn, the plaintiffs' lead attorney. "This court has made it clear that a school that shelters a known sexual predator through affirmative misrepresentation and deceitful conduct may face steep consequences."
Poly Prep's attorneys argued in a motion to dismiss that the lawsuit, which was filed in 2009 and seeks $20 million for each plaintiff, is not based on viable claims and that the statute of limitations has long expired. The school has not yet had to address the specific abuse allegations in the suit.
A statement from the school noted that Block dismissed some of the claims against the school and ordered an evidentiary hearing about the others.
“While Poly Prep believes the claims will ultimately be dismissed following a hearing, the school has continued to pursue a settlement of the case in numerous meetings over the last several months with plaintiffs' counsel and insurers, and as recently as yesterday in a settlement conference,” Kresler said. “We are still hopeful that the case may be settled."