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Long Island Teachers: Department Head Sexually Harassed Us

CARLE PLACE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A pair of Long Island teachers have filed a complaint alleging their department head sexually harassed them.

As CBS2's Emily Smith reported, the teachers claim that a female department head harassed them through her words and her actions.

John Brennan, a social studies teacher at Valley Stream North High School in Franklin Square, says he and several others were sexually harassed by the department head, Cecilia Sanossian.

Long Island Teachers: Department Head Sexually Harassed Us

"Unwanted touching, caressing, massaging," Brennan told WCBS 880's Kelly Waldron.

He said it even happened in front of students.

It came to a head this year when he came to school with a sinus infection.

"And as she started massaging me -- on my back and shoulders, across my neck line -- and I said, 'Could you please stop that?'" Brennan said.

After going to the administration numerous times, he said he had no choice but to file a complaint with the school district.

"I'm mentally fatigued, emotionally fatigued, physically fatigued, spirtually fatigued," Brennan said.

Fellow social studies teacher Al Daddino said he had nowhere else to turn, either.

"She threatened that her husband wanted to put my head on the wall," Daddino said.

At the very least, the teachers want Sanossian removed from the school and may ask the state Education Department to intervene.

"We have to do what's right for ourselves, for the students," Daddino said.

Daddino said he filed a complaint with the district in 2014, but no action was taken. Finally in 2015, ten teachers submitted a harassment complaint.

"It got to the point where as a father and co-worker and teacher I had to do something," he said.

In the complaint a letter signed by the staff members said that not all of them experience the harassment, but all of them witnessed it.

No one answered the door at Sanossian's Garden City home, but the school district did offer a statement.

"The district is aware of the allegations and is conducting an internal investigation. Due to matters of personnel, the district is not offering any further comment at this time," they said.

Students and parents said Sanossian has a reputation at the school.

"I think it's horrible. She has no business being a teacher there," Susan Wade said.

The New York State Human Rights Division will conduct an investigation that could result in fines and penalties.

The civil suit is not a criminal investigation, but at some point attorneys said, the case could end up in a jury's hands.


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