Long Branch Public Schools Superintendent Joseph M. Ferraina and the Board of Education are named as defendants in a lawsuit filed by a former school district secretary, which alleges disturbing acts of sexual servitude, sexual assault and threats.
In her suit, the former employee, Adele Russo, says she was threatened to remain silent about the abuse, which began in September 2004, for fear of losing her job.
Allegations in the suit claim the Superintendent used a sexual object to assault her sexually, and then forced her to perform felatio. On another occasion, she says during business hours he forced her to perform sex acts in a shower located within his office. The woman's complaint describes Ferraina's office as a secure, soundproof den of iniquity replete with a bar and the shower, the APP.com reported.
Russo further stated that following a back-to-school event, Ferraina duped his way into her apartment where he sexually assaulted her. The attacks, she alleges, went unreported because Ferraina threatened she would lose her job if she squealed.
Russo does say she notified the board of education of the fact that Ferraina was creating a hostile work environment for her, but that only led to the board allegedly conspiring to cover up the superintendent’s crimes. Eventually, the abuse led to the Long Branch woman suffering a nervous breakdown, which required her being placed on medications and she had to leave her job last year. Her lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damage.
During a telephone interview with the APP, Ferraina denied the allegations, which he said are frivolous and unfounded, NJ.com reported. He added that he would do everything to defend and exonerate himself. He declined to elaborate on the type of relationship him and Russo, 50, shared other than a professional one, the APP reported.
The Long Branch Board of Education seems to support Ferraina at this time saying based on the facts — primarily from Russo's documents — it does not appear Mr. Ferraina has conducted any unlawful behavior towards her.
A statement released by school board administrator, Peter E. Genovese III, and a board secretary said the board takes all allegations of improper behavior seriously and is conducting a thorough review of the matter. Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office First Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said Tuesday, Russo's complaint was reviewed and investigators would speak with her attorneys, the APP.com reported.
Ferraina, who earns a salary of $242,550 annually, announced plans to retire June 30. Earlier this year he spoke with Long Branch Patch about his delight over the construction of a new elementary school on the site of the old Elberon School. Ferraina said the much-needed new elementary school should be completed by January or June 2013.