By Phil Corso
A St. Francis Preparatory School graduate has revealed her name to the public in the midst of a $17 million sexual abuse lawsuit against her former school.
Felicia Mooradian, 21, graduated from the Fresh Meadows school in 2009 and had kept her identity private since accusing a Franciscan brother at the school of sexual harassment in Brooklyn federal court in June. She revealed her name to the New York Post over the weekend, saying she wanted to be the face for other victims to come forward.
“It should be called St. Francis ‘Predatory’ School,” she told the Post. “The Christian thing would be to admit your mistakes, not hide them.”
Attorneys on the school’s side contended from the beginning that she had no legal reasons to remain anonymous. She had previously been referred to in court documents only as Jane Doe.
She, another former student and a former teacher filed the suit against St. Francis Prep, Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn and various members of the school’s board of trustees.
“While it is true that in certain circumstances, the interests of justice are better served by anonymity, that is not so under these circumstances,” said Philip Semprevivo Jr., who represents St. Francis Prep and the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, in a letter to the judge. “Jane Doe’s right to privacy does not outweigh the customary presumption of openness in judicial proceedings, especially in light of the fact that upon information and belief, she made public statements about this case on the Internet.”
According to her civil suit, Mooradian said the problem began at age 14 during her 2006 freshman year at the school, when longtime Spanish teacher, Brother Ben O’Reilly, 69, allegedly started flirting with her in class. The student said she reported these incidents to the school, and the lawsuit showed O’Reilly, who was 62 at the time, was subsequently evaluated by a psychologist and found unfit to work with children. He was not removed from the school, however.
The school denied the suit’s accusations, Semprevivo said in a letter to Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Sterling Johnson.
The two other plaintiffs in the suit, former student Mark Evangelista and former teacher Elizabeth Cucinotta Sorvilla, used their real names in the initial court filings.
The case also included accusations from Evangelista that the school ignored claims of sexual abuse by Assistant Football Coach Robert Stenger.
The lawsuit said Evangelista initially refrained from filing any lawsuit against the school because he had not heard of complaints that Stenger was accused of physically assaulting or sexually abusing innocent boys prior to his own alleged physical assault.
Sorvillo’s role in the case centered around a website she launched to help students vent class troubles with school staffers, known as “Burn and Rot in Hell,” on which she allegedly collected countless complaints about teachers there.
The school only demanded she take the site down once complaints about inappropriate conduct started surfacing there, according to court documents.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.