Dyker Heights

Poly Prep tennis coach named in sexual assault lawsuit

December 19, 2019 Rob Abruzzese
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An active tennis coach from the Poly Prep Country Day School is accused of sexually assaulting a student in the 1980s in a lawsuit filed this week under the Child Victims Act. It’s the second suit in as many months filed against the school under the law.

William Martire, who currently runs a tennis camp for kids ages three through 17, according to Poly Prep’s website, has been accused in the suit of sexually abusing and forcibly assaulting a then 14-year-old girl over a two-year period in the 1980s.

Last month, a suit was brought against John Miller, a now deceased Episcopal priest who taught humanities and Latin at Poly Prep. Both lawsuits were brought under the New York Child Victims Act, which gives alleged victims a one-year window to sue if the statute of limitations had passed.

According to the lawsuit, the alleged victim is now in her mid-40s and claims that she joined the tennis team as a freshman. She also participated in a clinic the coach hosted on Kings Highway in Flatbush. She was allegedly warned that the coach was a “pervert” and a “scumbag” by older girls on the team.

Martire’s conduct started with comments like calling her body “tight” and encouraging her to wear tight clothes, the lawsuit claims. In March or April of her freshman year, Martire groped her breast outside of the locker room and he told her she had a “nice chest,” according to the suit.

In the summer between the alleged victim’s freshman and sophomore years, while attending a tennis camp Martire hosted for Poly Prep students in Montauk, he asked the alleged victim to run an errand with him. He drove to a remote, wooded area, according to the suit.

Martire grabbed the victim by the head and forced her to perform oral sex, according to the suit.

The alleged victim claims in the lawsuit that she was terrified and ashamed, and called her parents and pleaded to be taken home. The lawsuit claims she only told her parents that she wasn’t getting along with the other girls at the camp.

The abuse allegedly continued during her sophomore year, during which Martire would call her into his office, lock the door, and force her to perform oral sex on him on “multiple occasions.”

The lawsuit alleges that assistant headmaster Steven Andersen knew of the alleged abuse, but took no action.

During the alleged victim’s junior year, Martire told her that he wanted to have sexual intercourse with her and that he would take her to a hotel to stay overnight, according to the lawsuit. This caused her to “freak out” and quit the tennis team, the suit says.

The alleged victim claims that she never told her parents or the school because she felt that Martire would simply deny the allegations and that nobody would believe her because he was an icon at the school. She claims that she only came forward after news that the school was being sued in an additional, but unrelated, sexual assault.

Both lawsuits name Poly Prep itself in addition to the teacher and coach because the suits claim that in both instances there is reason to believe that faculty at the school knew of the alleged abuse and failed to act to protect the children.

Poly Prep and Martire did not respond to phone calls and emails requesting comment.

The lawsuit also alleges that “generations” of students at Poly Prep were victims of sexual assault.

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