School Abuse Case May Proceed, Judge Says

The New York Times

[court document]


Published: August 28, 2012

A top-tier Brooklyn private school cannot automatically use New York State’s statute of limitations to prevent a case involving sexual abuse allegations against a former football coach from proceeding, a judge ruled Tuesday, because of the possibility that the school may have engaged in a scheme to cover up decades of abuse.

The ruling by the judge, Frederic Block of the Federal District Court in Brooklyn, paves the way for a hearing to establish whether there was a cover-up by the school, Poly Prep, and if it prevented the plaintiffs from bringing a case within the statute of limitations. In New York, survivors of sexual abuse that occurred while they were minors must file a case by the time they are 23.

The judge dismissed all racketeering charges against Poly Prep, but allowed 2 of the 12 plaintiffs to go forward with their racketeering claims against current and former board and administration members. In his 40-page ruling, Judge Block also allowed civil charges including fraud and violations of Title IX, which specifically prohibits sexual abuse, to move forward to a hearing.

The case is being closely watched, as allegations of sexual abuse and the way powerful institutions manage knowledge of those allegations has exploded within the Roman Catholic Church, in the Hasidic community in Brooklyn and in high-profile schools like Horace Mann in the Bronx and Penn State University.

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