Teen Swimmer Says Coach Had Bizarre Obsession

     WEST CHESTER, Pa. (CN) — A Pennsylvania prep school failed to take action when its swim coach began sexually abusing a teenage boy on the team, he claims in court.
     William “Billy” Beard, of Pottstown, filed suit last week against Malvern Preparatory School, roughly three months after his former swim coach Emily Feeney pleaded guilty and agreed to register as a sex offender.
     In addition to coaching Malvern’s swim team, 41-year-old Feeney was the Catholic school’s director of college guidance.
     Beard says Feeney was Harvard alumna and exploited his collegiate aspirations to coerce him into a sexual relationship, “intimating that she could secure him an opportunity to attend Harvard on an athletic scholarship.”
     When Feeney began helping Beard with the college-admissions process in spring 2014, Beard was a 16-year-old junior.
     Over the next year, according to the complaint in Chester County, Feeney sent Beard “thousands of sexually abusive and sexually harassing emails from her Malvern Prep email account, as well as thousands of sexually abusive and sexually harassing text messages.”
     Feeney also sent photographs of herself, including one photo of her topless, the complaint states.
     Beard says Feeney’s “inappropriate fixation” with him was open and obvious but that no one at school did anything to stop the “abhorrent and improper behavior.”
     “She talks about you like you’re her boyfriend,” one social studies teacher told Beard in November 2014, with regard to Feeney, according to the complaint.
     Malvern Preparatory Head of School Christian Talbot and head coach Peter Lee did not return requests for comment on the June 2 lawsuit.
     Beard says Feeney had a habit of interrupting his classes and escorting him to her office.
     Once when this happened on Dec. 7, 2014, Feeney “closed and locked the door, and without plaintiff’s consent, sat down in plaintiff’s lap, kissed him and the attempted to engage him in sexual intercourse,” the complaint states.
     Beard says he refused Feeney’s advances and she let him return to class.
     Finally the boy told his parents about the “relentless” harassment he faced in January 2015.
     He says his father told school administrators that Feeney was “nuts” and that Beard needed a new counselor.
     Though Beard did get a new counselor that month, he says Feeney remained in charge of his swim team, and the school still failed to investigate “Feeney’s abusive email and telephone communications.”
     The administrator even emailed Feeney on Jan. 6, 2015, minimizing the complaint as “one negative experience” and assuring Feeney that he “believe[d] in [her] and trust[ed] [her].”
     Beard says it took a call to Chester County Child Protective Services in May 2015 for the hammer to drop.
     Someone called in to report that Feeney was abusing an anonymous student, and Malvern managed to single Beard out among 645 students as the victim.
     Beard says this proves the school knew about the ongoing inappropriate relationship.
     Making matters worse, school administrators failed to summon Beard’s parents when they blindsided him for a “traumatic” interview with police.
     Beard’s June 2 complaint seeks damages for assault, battery, negligence and emotional distress.
     He is represented by Anapol Weiss with Sol Weiss Esq., of Philadelphia, and by Jamison, Pa.-based attorney James Pepper.
     News reports about Feeney’s criminal case note that Beard’s mother read a statemet from her son to the court.
     “Memories of Emily Feeley’s abuse of me follow me and encompass most parts of my life,” he wrote.
     Feeney received a sentence of five years probation.

%d bloggers like this: