Target 12

Fired teacher claims colleague sought sexual encounters on school computer

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) -- A fired Bishop Hendricken teacher has filed a lawsuit claiming he was terminated for blowing the whistle on another teacher who he said was seeking sexual encounters on a classroom computer. 

David Marsocci, who taught religious studies at the Catholic school for 29 years, details the background of a dispute that started in 2013, when according to the lawsuit, a third teacher discovered "sexually explicit material" on the computer.

"While the computer was used by the classroom teacher," the complaints states, "students in his class also had access to it."

The unnamed teacher sought "paid and unpaid sexual encounters" on the classroom computer, according to the lawsuit, "which may have involved the teacher sending one or more pictures of Bishop Hendricken High School students."

Marsocci claims he showed administrators two years of evidence, from 2014 to 2016, from the teacher's computer.

The lawsuit was filed against school president John Jackson, assistant principal David Flanagan, former principal Joseph Brennan, Bishop Hendricken High School and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence. 

In an email, Jackson said he would not comment on the case until he sees the lawsuit.

The other plaintiffs and the defendant have not returned requests for comment at this time. 

In a written statement provided to Target 12 last August, as the controversy became public, Jackson denied students were ever in danger.

The complaint details the underpinnings of the dispute that provoked Marsocci to set up a password-protected website which he said he established to inform parents about the teacher's emails and the administration's "cover-up."

The "Hawk Outsider" website included apparently secretly recorded videos featuring Marsocci informing administrators that students had access to the computer.

In his complaint, Marsocci claims Hendricken's administration has defamed him since he left the school and "severely diminished [his] chances" of finding another teaching job in Rhode Island.

In his written statement from last year, Jackson claimed Marsocci fabricated his evidence.

"Investigations have found these claims to be wholly without merit, and never involved current or former students," Jackson said.

In the lawsuit, Marsocci alleges Jackson knew the "evidence was not "fabricated."

After Marsocci refused to disable the website, he was suspended and then terminated last May.

Last August, the Department of Labor and Training Board of Review ruled the Marsocci termination was unfair, allowing him to collect unemployment benefits.

In its decision, the board stated the school did not have a policy in place to support terminating Marsocci for insubordination and conduct not becoming a teacher.

"In the absence of a written policy there is no evidence the claimant knowingly violated a known and reasonable policy," the board of review referee wrote.

Brennan was involved in a controversy in January, when Target 12 and the Providence NAACP received an emailed video of him making a brief statement pocked with racial and anti-Semitic slurs.

"That way, I could take care of the [slur for African-Americans] and the [slur for Jewish people]," Brennan said in the video that was apparently recorded in his office.

The sender asked to remain anonymous, and would not say who was in the room with Brennan despite repeated requests from Target 12.

Neither the sender nor the school provided any purported context for the statement. 

The longtime principal abruptly retired the day after Target 12 forwarded the video to Jackson. 

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.


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