Spotting a Pedophile

A recently settled lawsuit charged that at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn administrators were repeatedly informed from the 1960s until his forced retirement in 1991 that Mr. Foglietta was sexually abusing boys — on campus, in his apartment and during trips. Mr. Foglietta, who died in 1998, fondled and raped dozens, if not hundreds, of children.

He was feared and loved. He was a squat, grizzled bear of a man.  He coached every summer at Joe Namath football camp.

But many of the kids knew that Coach Phil showered with the fifth graders.   They knew that he hung around the locker room and checked that each of the kids had thoroughly rinsed off.    He invited kids for car rides to Coney Island in his green Chevy Impala and for overnight stays at the apartment he shared with his mother. Most of those kids were young and small, often boys who had lost their fathers. He didn’t bother kids whose fathers were in local politics or allegedly high up in the mob. Those boys were never offered a ride in the green Impala.

Senior administrators were told about the abuse on multiple occasions. The lawsuit recounts specific meetings between boys, their parents, the headmaster and the athletic director.   The athletic director, who went on to become dean of students and assistant headmaster, reportedly witnessed abuse in the showers and walked away. In 1991, the headmaster allegedly told one of the victims that Coach was a bitter, sick old man who should be left alone. Coach Phil was powerful, intimidating, successful, not to be trifled with. And so for a quarter-century, he freely abused vulnerable boys, virtually in plain sight.

Pedophilia remains endemic, a powerful, difficult-to-treat compulsion. Prosecutions are rare, and victims who come forward years later are often barred from court by inflexible rules. Sexual abuse of children presents itself in confusing, ambiguous ways, so pedophilia education should be a mandatory part of the curriculum, repeated in elementary, middle and high school, at age-appropriate levels of detail. Abused children need to understand that they have done nothing wrong, that it is safe to come forward.

Read More: A Pedophile in Plain Site

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