Bridgewater-Raritan pays $100K to end teacher-student sex harassment lawsuit
BRIDGEWATER — The Bridgewater-Raritan school district this month paid $100,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a family of a student who was sexually harassed by a Spanish teacher who convinced her to send him nude selfies.
The lawsuit had accused the school of district of not doing enough to protect the teenage girl or her identity after the allegations against teacher George Friery Jr. came to light in 2009.
In agreeing to settle the lawsuit, the district did not admit any wrongdoing and is barred from discussing details of the agreement. But a copy of the settlement agreement was obtained under the state Open Public Records Act by open-government activist John Paff, a resident of Franklin in Somerset County, who shared it with New Jersey 101.5.
Friery was sentenced in 2011 to a year in county jail after pleading guilty to third-degree endangering the welfare of a child. He was ordered by the court to forfeit his teaching credentials and in 2011 the state Department of Education’s Board of Examiners revoked his teaching certificates.
Friery allegedly would contact the student with sexually graphic texts, email and phone calls and once told her 'every time you hear the school bell ring I want you to get wet thinking about me f——g you.'
The lawsuit, filed in 2014 in Superior Court in Somerset, accused George Friery Jr. of using his position of authority over a female student identified as V.F. to develop an inappropriate relationship that left the student, with psychological trauma, pain and suffering, severe mental anguish and post traumatic stress.
Friery was accused in the lawsuit of convincing V.F. to send him naked pictures and create a thumb drive with the images .
Friery, who was married with two children, allegedly would contact the student with sexually graphic texts, email and phone calls and once told her "every time you hear the school bell ring I want you to get wet thinking about me f------g you." The complaint also said that while the girl's parents attended Back to School Night he sent her a text asking for "sexy" pictures
He arranged his hallway duty position to be near her and the choir instructor, John Wilson, would regularly sign passes for her to go to Friery's classroom during his class according to the suit. Fiery also is said to have taught V.F. how to pleasure herself using text messages and later sat in front of her home in a parked car doing this.
After seeing a television program about infidelity, V.F felt bad for Friery's family and emailed Friery that she wanted to end their relationship. Fiery instead told her he had not destroyed the graphic images and blackmailed her into another weekend meeting.
After Friery's arrest in 2009, the identity of V.F. became known and she was taunted, called a 'slut' and pushed into lockers by other students upset at Friery's arrest.
However, the Friday before V.F.'s father found the graphic images of his daughter on her laptop and called the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office. Her parents wanted her identity to be kept confidential by school and police official and offered to take her to the prosecutor's office in their own car. The prosecutor insisted on taking her from the high school to their office in the back of a police which caused her "public shame and humiliation," according to the suit.
After Friery's arrest in 2009, the identity of V.F. became known and she was taunted, called a "slut" and pushed into lockers by other students upset at Friery's arrest.
The suit also accused the district of not providing "a safe and appropriate educational environment" for V.F., failing to enforce policies governing teacher-student meetings and communications, tolerating an undisciplined school atmosphere where district teachers and staff do not report and investigate unusual, suspect, and improper teacher conduct and infraction of school rules, failing to monitor plaintiff's school time social-psychological interactions despite her known behavioral history of being sexually abused by an uncle and by indifference and disregard as to her privacy.
The student and her family were represented by Glenn T. Wertheim of Bound Brook and Gregory G. Gianforcaro of Phillipsburg.