View Full Version : BK-All At Elite Prep School Poly Prep in Brooklyn, Abuse Case Won’t Go Away

12-12-2011, 09:38 AM
From N.Y. Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/11/nyregion/at-elite-prep-school-abuse-case-wont-go-away.html) by Ginia Bellafante:

To a distant observer through the years, it would have seemed that the benefits of a private school education in New York had accrued generously to Philip Culhane. The son of a CBS News correspondent, Mr. Culhane, who is now in his mid-40s, grew up in the Cobble Hill neighborhood and from fifth grade on went to Poly Prep, the well-regarded school in Brooklyn where his great-grandfather had gone as well.

From Poly, Mr. Culhane went on to Williams College and then to law school at New York University. Soon after, he arrived at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, where he has been a partner for nine years, operating out of the firm’s Hong Kong office and rising to become a leading private equity lawyer in Asia.

Mr. Culhane’s, of course, is precisely the sort of trajectory that so many parents, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to educate their children, have come to expect. In addition to this assumption of success is the quiet belief that privilege is its own inoculation — against the ugly and the unseemly, against the sort of terrible things that one hears about in institutions that lack the philosophy or resources to vet for the best and most caring educators and stewards.

It is conventional wisdom that sexual predators target children who are “vulnerable,” and by vulnerability we mean, in large part — whether we care to admit it not — an existence outside the cosseted world of the affluent. In truth, all children are vulnerable in institutions that prize status and reputation above their responsibility to protect their charges.

In a federal lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Brooklyn two years ago (and again in the public eye via a series of articles in The Daily News (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/i-team/lawsuit-claims-poly-prep-covered-iconic-football-coach-phil-foglietta-sex-buse-young-boys-decades-article-1.987284)), Mr. Culhane and eight other Poly Prep alumni say the school engaged in epic levels of moral and practical mismanagement for decades, in regard to the perversions of a football coach, Philip Foglietta, who died in 1998. Mr. Culhane and the other plaintiffs say Mr. Foglietta repeatedly sexually abused them along with dozens of other students — in cars, locker rooms, houses and apartments, and on squash courts — during his tenure from 1966 to 1991. (Three years ago, a Web site devoted to the charges, White Tower Healing (http://www.whitetowerhealing.org/), was created.)

Mr. Culhane told me recently that he was abused by Mr. Foglietta before gym class in fifth and sixth grades. His strategy for ending the attacks was to go to gym class late or not at all.

“Poly was a very athletic-driven school,” Mr. Culhane said. “If you went to gym class late, you were punished. But I routinely showed up at gym class late and nothing happened, which says to me that other people knew what was happening.” Mr. Culhane said he grew withdrawn and depressed and did not tell anyone what happened until he told a psychiatrist when he was 30.

Mr. Foglietta was never charged with any crimes, and a 2004 civil suit against Poly Prep in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn was dismissed on the ground that too much time had gone by.

With the current case, Mr. Culhane and the other plaintiffs are suing under the provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which was originally aimed at dismantling the Mafia but which has over time been used in more expansive ways.

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