Another Case of Child Abuse in a Sports Program, This Time at Poly Prep

07/16/2012 9:30 AM |


Poly Prep, a prep school in Brooklyn, is at the center of a 3-year-old lawsuit alleging they covered up 20 years of sexual abuse by their football coach, Phil Foglietta:

Mulhearn says Poly Prep officials and lawyers have acted despicably since he filed the suit in 2009 by withholding requested documents and providing blatantly misleading testimony. Their actions, Mulhearn contends, are an extension of the coverup Poly Prep began in 1966, when administrators threatened to expel a student named William Jackson, now a plaintiff in the lawsuit, after he reported he had been assaulted by Foglietta.

The cover-up, Mulhearn argues, not only allowed Foglietta to rape and assault students for more than 20 years, but it also prevented his clients from pursuing litigation against the school in a timely fashion. That argument is at the heart of the suit, which claims Poly Prep put its athletic program ahead of student safety, and seeks $20 million for each of its dozen plaintiffs. [NY Daily News]

Like Penn State, like Horace Mann, like countless schools that are still actively hiding abuse, the situation at Poly Prep is tragically familiar. The people who act surprised or defensive when things like this come to light are the very people who enable abusers with their willful ignorance and refusal to see what’s going on around them.

I know I’ve said this before, but I’m going to keep saying it: this is what we mean we when talk about “rape culture.” See, it’s literally a culture that creates a safe space for rapists to do their thing, and silences victims who dare to speak out against their abusers. I know we are all so so very tired of last week’s endless “are rape jokes ever funny?” debate. But while we can sit around saying these are okay but these aren’t, and splitting hairs about who gets to say what, when, and what comedy is, and whether your first amendment rights include nobody ever criticizing your very important comedy ideas, we kind of bypass the larger point that shit like this is happening. Now. Every day. All the time. So like, maybe whenever you feel like throwing a hissy fit because some mean ladies on the internet said your rape jokes aren’t cool, ask yourself this: regardless of what I’m “allowed” to do, are my actions helping or hurting people like Phil Foglietta? And go from there.