Poly Prep officials – while maintaining that they would like a “fair resolution” to a lawsuit filed by dozens of former students who say administrators covered up decades of sexual abuse – have also signaled that they have the legal wherewithal to defend the school should the case go to trial, writes Michael O’Keeffe for the Daily News.
On Friday school officials retained Mary Jo White – who was the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1993 to 2002. White oversaw the prosecution of “Ramzi Yousef and others” convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.
From Daily News:
Several other lawyers from Deveboise & Plimpton, an international law firm based in New York, have also joined the Poly Prep defense team. Those attorneys are Matthew E. Fishbein and Helen Cantwell.
White, appointed to run the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan by President Clinton, presided over the prosecution of Ramzi Yousef and others involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. White and her staff also prosecuted Egyptian cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and others who plotted to blow up New York City landmarks.
Her office made headlines for prosecuting cases involving Wall Street crime, international art theft, drug trafficking and police corruption. White was also the Eastern District’s lead prosecutor when Mafia boss John Gotti was convicted of murder and racketeering in 1992.
According to the News, Kevin Mulhearn – the attorney for the plaintiffs, whose own office is based in Orangeburg, NY, chose not to comment.
The lawsuit Mulhearn filed three years ago names Poly Prep Country Day School – as well as a slew of administrators – as defendants. It states that the school received reports of sexual abuse by football coach Phil Foglietta “just months after he was hired in 1966.”
Plaintiffs say that school officials didn’t stop at merely ignoring student’s pleas for action, but actually threatened disciplinary action against any young men who continued to report the abuse.
Mulhearn has said there are “disturbing parallels” between Poly Prep and the Penn State scandal.
One plaintiff, identified in the complaint as “John Doe II,” accused longtime Poly Prep athletic director Harlow Parker, who died two years ago, of witnessing Foglietta abusing him in a shower and simply walking away.
The story sounded eerily familiar to a grand jury report from the Penn State case in which Nittany Lions coach Mike McQueary failed to act when he saw defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky allegedly raping a boy in a locker room shower.
Last week, the newest addition to the list of plaintiffs – former NYPD detective David Zarnock, told the News that he had been sexually assaulted “hundreds of times” by Foglietta.