10/1/2014: Update, please read: Brother Dominic Quigley Removed From American Martyrs Parish
Some of my blogs are serious, some are sarcastic, but I would like to think they all say something that needs to be said. There is a lot that must be said today.
First I want everyone to know that St. Francis Prep thought it was a good idea to sue 22 year old college student Felicia Mooradian for defamation. How did this come about, you ask? Well, Felicia is the plaintiff in the lawsuit involving Assistant Principal Christopher Mendolia and former teacher Fernando Sicilia, and, if you recall, the plaintiff in the lawsuit regarding Brother Ben O'Reilly that was filed last year. The school's attorney and Felicia's attorney had scheduled a settlement conference in the matter involving Mendolia/Sicilia (they were already discussing settlement terms), and in preparation for that meeting, she had written a statement of her allegations that was to form the basis of her official lawsuit complaint if no settlement was reached. Felicia's lawyer sent this document to the school's attorney.
What seems to have happened was that this document was subsequently sent to two members of the school's Board of Trustees, Joanne Persico and Sr. Loretta McGrann, and the Chairman of the Capital Campaign, John Brown, along with a plea to them to please do something about alleged continual sexual harassment of students at St. Francis Prep.
In its lawsuit, Prep has accused Felicia of "leaking" the document to these three people (who obviously all work for the school), and consequently sued her over it, even though it was sent to people who, in my opinion, should know what it says. Logically, I would think that if the school was about to enter a settlement conference with Felicia over the matter, ALL the members of the Board should have seen her allegations way before the document was forwarded to some of them allegedly by someone who does not work for the school. In fact, I can't think of a single reason that the school would be upset about its own Board of Trustees knowing about a potential lawsuit involving its Assistant Principal of Faculty and Instruction. Can you?
Just so you know, this "Franciscan" institution despite the fact it knew Felicia is represented by Attorney Kevin Mulhearn, and where his is located, and how to reach him, attempted to serve her personally with the lawsuit summons and complaint at her parents' apartment at 10:00 pm on a Saturday night, waking up her mother and 7 year old brother. In my opinion, that sounds a lot like harassment.
In response to the defamation suit against her, Felicia's lawyer did not make a motion to dismiss the case, as Prep has done with every lawsuit filed against it to date. What he did was file an answer to it, and a counterclaim for a frivolous lawsuit. In other words, Felicia wants to litigate it.
This is a beautifully inspired strategy for two reasons:
First, by suing Felicia, the school handed this young woman her day in court - which she is quite happy about. Even if her lawsuits against the school are dismissed, she can now still take the stand and talk about everything she's wanted to talk about regarding what she experienced at SFP - Br. Ben, Mendolia, Sicilia, the lot of it, including an art teacher who was suddenly fired in 2006. In addition, she can call witnesses - like Marla Krolikowski - who happened to make a documentary in the 90's about the sexual harassment of students at St. Francis Prep. This documentary was played for the entire faculty back then at an assembly - and from what I have been told, the film will be relevant at this trial, some 20 years later. I hope I get to testify, too. I have quite a bit to say at this point. And good for you, Felicia, they can't shut you up now.
Secondly, in June, 2013, the school's servers were hacked by a Saudi hacking group. "Group HP-Hack" stole the SFP database of email usernames and passwords, and passed them on to other parties. An article about this can be found here:
St. Francis Prep Hacked
I do remember the school's Google listing had a "this site may be hacked" warning on it for 8 or 9 months or so, beginning around June, 2013, when the first lawsuits were filed against the school. By chance, I happened to Google "St. Francis Prep hacked" the other day and found the above link. What's also interesting is that this past March, I received an email from an unknown source telling me that the security of my personal email accounts, as well as Felicia's, were compromised, and suggesting that we both create new email accounts and encrypt all our emails. Hmmm, who do you think sent Felicia's allegations to the board members?
As a lawyer with 20 years of experience, if I were to offer my opinion as to why the school sued Felicia, I would say that, in my opinion, they were hoping she would drop her lawsuit against Mr. Mendolia. I would give the opinion that they were perhaps hoping for a swap - Felicia would drop her lawsuit and they would drop theirs. IF that's actually the case, well then, OOPS, I guess she doesn't give a crap.
Also a few months ago, after I published the blog that discussed the movie "inspired by true events" that my business partner, Nick Deninno and I have in pre-production,
(Prep: The Movie, http://www.prepthemovie.com/ ) an SFP graduate, John Bennett, Class of 1998, who works in the film industry contacted me asking if he could work on it with us. In our discussions, he revealed to me that he had been sexually harassed and abused by Br. DeSales Pergola when he was a student library assistant. John states that in addition to repeatedly asking him whether he was "jerking off," Br. DeSales pressured John to allow him to rub John's crotch and did touch and/or rub John's crotch on numerous occasions. While I was investigating Br. DeSales, I was not surprised to find out that he was bounced around quite a bit during his career. His bio is here:
Br. DeSales bio
Br. DeSales eventually wound up working in the St. Francis Prep library, like ex-social studies teacher turned librarian Robert Stenger, who was regarded by both teachers and students as a pervert and a creep. Is this coincidence? Or was the SFP library the dumping ground for perverts? I guess we shall see.
In addition, while all this other stuff was going on, a graduate from the class of 2004 read my blogs and reached out to me with some very upsetting information. This alum told me that when he was a student at SFP, his friend (who was also a student at SFP) had told him that he had a sexual encounter with Br. Dominic Quigley (who taught at St. Francis Prep for more than 30 years). He had lost contact with his friend, but told me how to find him on Facebook - which I did.
Just to back-track a little at this point, I want everyone to know that two of the statements the school is alleging are defamatory (defamatory means not true) and is alleging were made by Felicia with "malice" in its lawsuit against her are: "SEXUAL HARASSMENT BY TEACHERS NEEDS TO STOP AT SFP. DO SOMETHING" and "SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT SFP IS A HUGE PROBLEM." (I would have attached the school's official complaint here, but Felicia and I already used it for toilet paper.)
That being said, here is a quick summary of this young man's ALLEGATIONS regarding Br. Dominic Quigley. He alleges that in 2003:
1) He and Br. Dom manually stimulated each other's genitals and had more than one sexual encounter on school property;
2) Br. Dom asked the boy if Br. Dom could perform fellatio on him;
3) Br. Dom asked the boy to penetrate Br. Dom's anus with his penis.
Br. DeSales died in 2011. However, Br. Dom now works for the Diocese of Brooklyn. He is the Sacristan at American Martyr's Church (SFP Chaplain Fr. Bill Sweeney's parish) in Bayside. My understanding is Br. Dom works with altar boys and CCD kids there. Interestingly, the monsignor of American Martyrs was removed in 2007 as a result of an investigation by the diocese into allegations of sex abuse. See here:
American Martyrs Monsignor Removed for Sex Abuse
The reason I use the formal term "allegations" above when discussing the current situation with Br. Dom is that we have already requested that the diocese investigate Br. Dom, based upon the statements provided by this young man. It is by the grace of God that Br. Dom works for the diocese. If he were still working at Prep (which is not under the control of the diocese), Prep could have, if it wanted to, dismissed what this young man has to say, perhaps painted him as a weirdo or loon, perhaps not taken any action against Br. Dom, or even quietly transferred him to another high school. The diocese, however, is obligated to investigate once they are informed of these types of allegations. They even have a sex abuse hotline set up for this purpose (888-634-4499). And just in case you were wondering, yes, this man gave a description of Br. Dom's penis.
What is even more disturbing to me is that other graduates have contacted me about Br. DeSales and Br. Dom. One of these gentlemen is a graduate of the class of 1989. He contacted me almost two years ago and told me that Br. DeSales would frequently stop him in the library and inquire about the cleanliness of his genitals and ask him whether he was engaging in oral sex. This same man told me Br. Dom once brought him up to the Brothers' residence on the 3rd floor of the school and took him to his bedroom. That conversation put Br. DeSales and Br. Dom on my radar - and there they have stayed these past two years. In case you haven't noticed, being on my radar is a very bad thing, especially if I have the impression that an individual has hurt or been sexually inappropriate with students. Someone in the social studies department was on my radar as well - he started a romantic relationship with a senior in 2009. I was quite happy to learn that he is finally not teaching at Prep this year.
As a general statement, I would like to say that if you are a faculty or staff member who has information about certain events, who knew about certain things when they were happening and did nothing except gossip about them, or who, as a mandated reporter, should have called the authorities and didn't, and instead turned a blind eye and perhaps still do so you can collect your paycheck, I want you to know that you are on my radar. You are the reason the name of this blog and website are apropos. You can continue to pat yourselves on the back under the guise of being an educator, but someone who truly cares about children opens their mouth and does the right thing. You know if this shoe fits. God help you if it does.
I also want to make this clear to everyone: No one I have mentioned in this blog is afraid of St. Francis Prep. No one cares about what bullshit tactics or strategies they may use to try and get other people to back down and shut up. President Brother Leonard Conway and Principal Patrick McLaughlin, in my opinion, will never have half the good character of any of these people who have come forward with their stories of harassment and abuse.
Making sure children are protected is the main goal of all these SFP graduates. More people coming forward will inevitably follow until certain parties resign and better measures are put in place to protect children. To that end, I hope you agree it's time for a full 40 year investigation of St. Francis Prep. The only people who would be against such an idea are people who have something to hide. What needs to be created is an open forum for graduates to come forward before a third party without fear of retaliation or liability so they can tell their stories.
I feel strongly that this day will come, and I am hoping quite soon.
These reports are so disturbing and my thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been harmed. Just a few facts to correct... American Martyrs (no apostrophe) is where Father Bill Sweeney lives, he is not the Pastor there. He is no way involved with the allegations of abuse, Brother Dominic's employment at SFP, or his employment at American Martyrs. Brother Dominic was employed at American Martyrs before Father Bill was sent to live there. In 2007, the former pastor of American Martyrs, Msgr. Zatarga, was removed from the parish due to allegations of abuse. The abuse did not take place at American Martyrs, or while he was assigned there; the allegations stemmed from a previous assignment. As the sachristan, Brother Dominic does work with altar servers, but he does not teach CCD classes. I'm sure that American Martyrs will hold a parish meeting to address concerns, especially with parents of altar servers.ReplyDelete
We certainly would hope that American Martyrs discusses these developments with their parishioners, because this past weekend, knowing full well that Br. Dominic had been suspended, they chose to tell callers that he "was away attending to family business." We are very glad that Br. Dominic, the sacristan (no h) is being fully investigated. We are also equally please his picture and listing under "pastoral staff" is off the American Martyrs website since it was still there yesterday.ReplyDelete
It is sad though the abused wait so long to report the abuse. Today's article in the Daily News about Brother Dominic was posted next to an article about another abuser teacher. This needs to be spoken about more in schools. These victims need to be encouraged to tell the truth when the abuse happens and be comforted in knowing that the abuse is not their fault. If these children and young adults are given the strength to come forward when the abuse takes place, not only would it be easier to investigate and hold the abusers responsible for the actions criminally, but it would also prevent the same thing or even worse from happening to another innocent child. And I agree with G. Adela. I hope American Martyrs addresses the parish about the situation... I know they did with the Msgr. Zatarga incident. Although it is late, I'm glad he was taken off their website, too. Brother Dominic has worked at Martyrs for a long time, long before Father Bill was placed there as "in residence." He worked there before his "moving to Rome," and then started again shortly after returning. I hope that he didn't harm any altar servers at Martyrs but if he did, I hope they have the courage to come forward. And as someone who knows a lot of students at SFP, I hope they start getting paying more attention to all of these claims of abuse and do something to protect the students.ReplyDelete
That is very well said, and thank you so much for your comment. God bless the young men and women who are taking a stand and trying to help current and future St. Francis Prep students. Certain people in positions of authority need to resign, and policies must be put in place to better protect the children.Delete