By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
An elite Brooklyn school is in court again on an issue related to a well-publicized sex scandal case that was settled.
The plaintiffs in the original case against Poly Prep Country Day School are now suing the school’s attorneys, Manhattan law firm O'Melveny & Myers, alleging that the lawyers fraudulently misrepresented facts in an attempt to deceive the court into reaching a decision in Poly Prep’s favor.
Ten alumni and two former students brought suit against Poly Prep in 2009, charging that the school concealed 25 years of sexual abuse by Peter Foglietta, its football coach for since the 1960s.
In 2002, attorneys for the victims contacted the school to report that their clients had been abused. An internal investigation was subsequently conducted to discern “the extent, if any, to which members of the school’s faculty or administration knew of sexual misconduct or sexual abuse by Mr. Foglietta,” court papers noted.
This investigation was cut short in 2003, and the lead investigator, former Assistant United States Attorney Peter Sheridan, destroyed his notes.
In 2012, a federal magistrate judge expressed concern over the abrupt end to the internal investigation and the loss of Sheridan’s investigation notes. Brooklyn Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak did not go so far as to agree with “plaintiffs’ charges of fraud,” but she did find that “serious questions” had been “raised as to whether [Poly Prep] and their counsel were simply engaged in a good faith effort to vigorously defend [the] lawsuit or whether certain … 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.”
A confidential settlement on the sex abuse claims was reached in December 2012, before the claims of fraud and concealment of evidence were fully adjudicated.
The current suit seeks to address the issue of misrepresented facts and claims that Poly Prep’s attorneys violated New York State Law, which prevents an attorney from participating in any form of "deceit or collusion, with intent to deceive the court or any party." Further, the suit charges that Poly Prep’s attorneys violated New York’s Rules of Professional Conduct, which regulates attorney behavior, by suppressing and failing to disclose pertinent evidence against Poly Prep.
The plaintiffs are seeking to triple the amount of legal fees incurred in bringing the first lawsuit, which was in excess of $2 million, and are asking that all legal fees paid by Poly Prep to O'Melveny & Myers be awarded to the plaintiffs in the present case.
"The underlying case was concluded nine months ago with a settlement voluntarily entered into by the plaintiffs,” O’Melveny & Myers said in a statement. “These claims are completely baseless and without merit.”
Kevin T. Mulhearn of Orangeburg, N.Y., represents the plaintiffs in this case.