Catholic School Teachers Sue “Vulgar” Priest for Age, Gender Discrimination

Three teachers at a Catholic high school on Staten Island are accusing the school's top administrators of the "truly sinful conduct" of age and gender discrimination in a lawsuit that also accuses its principal of routinely making vulgar remarks.

The lawsuit accuses the Rev. Michael Reilly, the principal of St. Joseph by the Sea, of unleashing "a constant stream of rude, crude and inappropriate remarks" and using a four-letter word "in almost every sentence in some form."

The plaintiffs accuse Reilly's "henchmen," Vice Principal Robert Richard and Dean of Men Greg Manos, of condoning and mimicking Reilly's remarks.

In a statement to NBC 4 New York, Archdiocese of New York spokesman Joseph Zwilling said Wednesday that the lawsuit's allegations are "absurd and strongly denied" by Reilly and his staff.

The lawsuit references an incident that occurred last October in which a young graduate got into an argument with Manos. Guidance Counselor Lawrence Boliak reached for the young man's shirt to restrain him, but missed and grasped his gym shorts. Reilly, Manos and Richard then accused Boliak of being a pedophile, the suit maintains.

On Oct. 16, Manos wrote a memo stating in bold letters, "THIS MAN SHOULD NEVER BE ALLOWED TO BE AROUND CHILDREN," the lawsuit states.

Zwilling responded that Boliak allegedly pulled down the gym shorts of the former student and was consequently instructed to no longer meet with students in his office, but to meet with them in a conference room with the door open.

"At no time has anyone labeled him a 'pedophile.'" Zwilling said.

"We believe that the genesis for this lawsuit is the fact that work rules were imposed on Mr. Boliak," he added.

The school didn't report the incident to the State Island District Attorney when it occurred, he said.

The lawsuit also contends that the school's principal was "obsessed with getting rid of the older teachers," adding that he targeted teachers Thomas Rodes and Boliak because they were both more than 60 years old.

Plaintiff Maureen Smith accuses Reilly of creating a hostile work environment by using vulgar and degrading references to women employees.

The lawsuit accuse the defendants of defamation and discrimination under the state's Human Rights Law.

It also names the archdiocese and Cardinal Timothy Dolan as defendants, accusing them of negligence by continuing to retain Reilly as the school's principal, despite complaints made against him six months ago.

Reilly was appointed by the archdiocese in October 2012 to be pastor of St. Joseph By the Sea.

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