Yesterday a Brooklyn federal judge ruled that there is enough evidence to suggest that officials at Poly Prep Country Day School [9216 7th Ave] were aware of sex abuse allegations against former football coach Phil Foglietta before 1991 – the year they claim to have first learned about them, reports Michael O’Keeffe for the Daily News.
The hearing, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollack, added new credibility to a law suit by former students that alleges school administrators have covered up sexual abuse since the 1960s.
“There have been serious questions raised as to whether defendants and their counsel were simply engaged in a good faith effort to vigorously defend this lawsuit or whether certain [aspects] of the alleged conduct was in furtherance of an effort to conceal the extent of the school’s knowledge and to hinder plaintiffs’ efforts in pursuing their case,” Pollak wrote in an order made public on Wednesday.
Kevin Mulhearn, the attorney for a group of alumni who say they were abused, wants to take depositions from school attorneys Roderick MacLeish and Jeffrey Newman, in order to see if school officials were aware of the accusations before former student David Hiltbrand wrote a letter to former headmaster William M. Williams in 1991 – A letter which accused longtime football coach Phil Foglietta of molesting him during the 1960s.
The case, which is being compared to the Penn State scandal, is looking worse for Poly Prep higher ups after the judge agreed with Mulhearn on Wednesday that an investigation conducted by former federal prosecutor Peter Sheridan – on the school’s behalf – was less than genuine.
“A reasonable inference could be drawn from the totality of the circumstances that Poly Prep, faced with serious allegations of misconduct, undertook an investigation specifically designed not to discover the full extent of the faculty and administration’s knowledge,” Pollack wrote.