The Archdiocese of Miami is being sued for negligence after a Catholic high school teacher was convicted for having a sexual relationship with a student who was 16 years old at the time.
John Farrell, a former CGHS math teacher, is currently doing jail time after being convicted on 20 counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor.
The lawsuit, filed by the now 18-year-old victim, alleges the Archdiocese of Miami, Archbishop Thomas Wenski and Cardinal Gibbons High School were negligent in supervising Farrell and other administrators who engaged in similar activities. According to the lawsuit, Farrell knew that various CGHS administrators had engaged in sexual relationships with other students and that one of those administrators had married a former student. The lawsuit claims Farrell engaged in the relationship knowing that he would not be reprimanded by the school.
"Farrell believed that other teachers were having relationships with students or had had them in the past and that the administration looked the other way, so that it was okay for him to do it," said Jeff Herman, the victim's attorney. "Obviously, that's a big concern."
Farrell, who was a first-year teacher at the school, was arrested on May 27, 2013. The Broward Sheriff's Office said he had been engaging in sexual activity with the student since the beginning of March.
Deputies said it was a consensual relationship that began during after school activities. The victim would allegedly go to Farrell's Lauderdale-by-the-Sea apartment to engage in sexual activity, deputies said. According to authorities, during a phone call with the teen, Farrell acknowledged the sexual relationship and "asked her to not to say anything."
The archdiocese released the following statement Tuesday regarding the allegations made in the lawsuit:
"The Archdiocese of Miami promulgated its Safe Environment Policy in March 2003; this policy requires all employees and volunteers receive a Level 2 background screening (FDLE and FBI) and VIRTUS training. In addition, any allegation of sexual misconduct or abuse is reported to law enforcement officials, pastoral and psychological care is offered to an alleged victim and the ADOM pledges full cooperation with the investigation."
The victim is seeking at least $5 million in damages.