child victims act

Poly Prep Coach Sexually Assaulted Student, Lawsuit Claims

Poly Prep tennis coach Bill Martire.
Poly Prep tennis coach Bill Martire. Photo: Screengrab/@PolyBlueDevils/Facebook

An alumna of Poly Prep Country Day School is suing for compensation under the Child Victims Act — alleging a tennis coach who is still employed at the Brooklyn school abused her.

The suit, filed in Kings County Supreme Court on Thursday against the elite Dyker Heights private school and coach William Martire, claims “the culture of impunity” at Poly Prep enabled the alleged abuse.

The plaintiff, identified as Jane Roe, claims she was repeatedly groped and compelled to have oral sex by Martire over a period of two years both on campus and off in the late 1980s and early 90s, beginning when she was just 14.

The Child Victims Act allows retroactive lawsuits concerning alleged past conduct that would have been previously barred by statutes of limitation. The suits must be filed by August.

Roe didn’t speak to any adults at the school about the abuse out of fear no one would believe her, according to the suit, which noted Martire was “an icon” at Poly Prep.

“She was overwhelmed with anger, guilt, and shame,” the complaint reads. “She still is.”

Martire could not be reached for comment. Poly Prep did not respond to THE CITY’s requests for comment.

Inspired by Fellow Student

Roe, according to the court papers, decided to file suit against the school after reading about action taken by a John Doe, who last month sued Poly for allegedly covering up abuse by John Miller, a deceased priest and former Latin teacher.

The Poly Prep campus in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.
The Poly Prep campus in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Photo: Google Maps

She’s been in therapy off and on for over two decades as a result of the alleged abuse, according to the suit. The complaint said that she confided about the alleged abuse to a friend, her husband and therapists — but not her parents, who are unaware of the alleged incidents.

The suit also alleges that Steven Andersen, a coach at Poly Prep at the time, once walked in on Martire and Roe after a sexual assault took place, and did nothing “despite the numerous indicators of inappropriate conduct.”

Andersen could not be reached for comment.

The suit was filed by attorneys at the firm Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss PLLC, which is also representing Doe in the case against Poly Prep.

As of Tuesday, 176 Child Victims Act lawsuits have been filed in Kings County, according to Lucian Chalfen, an Office of Court Administration spokesperson.

Eric Lewis, Roe’s attorney — himself an alum of Poly Prep — said the school has already been notified of the accusations against Martire.

Under state law, Lewis told THE CITY, the school is obliged to contact the police and child welfare authorities, since Martire is still an employee.

U.S. Rep. Max Rose, a Poly Prep alum whose congressional district includes Dyker Heights, pushed for accountability.

“While the days of men in power abusing people without consequence are numbered — we undoubtedly have more work to do,” he said in a statement to THE CITY. “I strongly encourage Poly Prep to ensure justice and accountability for all those responsible — as well as do everything in their power to ensure this never happens again.”

Past Complaints

The suit is not the first complaint involving Poly Prep sports. In 2015, a tennis instructor hired by Martire was arrested for sexually assaulting a student. The outcome of that case was unclear.

In 2016, Poly Prep settled a high-profile sex-abuse lawsuit against football coach Philip Foglietta, who work at the school when Roe was a student.

“This case is equally about the many adults in positions of power at Poly who were aware of, tolerated and covered up rampant sexual abuse at the school,” the latest complaint reads.

“It’s not like it happens when you’re 14 or 15 and then you forget about it,” Lewis told THE CITY. “[The victims] have issues that are lifelong.”

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