More evidence surfaces against coach in sexual harassment case

On another Fairfax County school issue, we're been pressing for answers to our investigation into the sexual harassment scandal at Lake Braddock Secondary School.

BURKE, VA. - Pressing for answers into the sexual harassment scandal at Lake Braddock Secondary School, WUSA9 has uncovered more evidence school leaders may have ignored sexual harassment allegations against a girls’ basketball coach.

“I clearly called the very first season that he coached in 2013,” said Susan Gallier who said she called Lake Braddock Principal Dave Thomas at the end of the 2013 season to complain about Coach John Giannelli.

“I spoke to Dave Thomas, and I also spoke to the A.D. [Activities Director] office. I even said to them, ‘If you don’t get on this now, you are going to have a problem in the future,’” said Gallier. She said she just wanted the behavior to stop and did not want the coach fired.

“I wanted his inappropriate comments to stop, and I wanted his emotional outbursts at the girls to stop,” said Gallier. 

Principal Dave Thomas, Gallier said, did not take her seriously and dismissed her concerns.

Her daughter Betsy Gallier, 21, was the team captain in 2013. She was a senior.

“[Giannelli] definitely would get really angry and yell at times and he also did say very inappropriate things to the girls.  Not me, but I did witness him say it to other girls.  It definitely didn’t feel like a comfortable space when we were at practice because he was very inappropriate,” said Betsy Gallier. Inappropriate in a sexual sort of way.

Betsy said at least three girls complained about Giannelli to administrators.

“That I know of, there was, like, three,” she said, who complained to the then- activities director Mark Martino.

Two years later, in December of 2015, Lizzie Fitzpatrick complained to the new activities director Mike Clark. Clark said he informed Principal Dave Thomas of Fitzpatrick’s complaints the same day on December 18, 2015. 

After parents complained by detailing the allegations in surveys, Giannelli resigned on March 15, 2016.

Betsy Gallier said that two years before Fitzpatrick’s complaint, three teammates made formal complaints about Giannelli. But after those claims were made, Betsy said she saw no change in behavior from Giannelli. Her impression was that those complaints back in 2013 were ignored.

Other parents said they also complained to the principal before 2016.

WUSA9 obtained a letter from a parent in March of 2017 to FCPS acting superintendent Steven Lockard that reads:

“It has been nearly three years since we first brought our complaints to DSA Martino, and over a year since we took them more forcefully to DSA Clark and Principal Thomas. The misconduct by coach Giannelli against these three [REDACTED WORD] ranged from bullying and intimidation to sexual harassment to religious insults, and so on.”

That parent alleged they complained in 2014, a full year before Lizzie Fitzpatrick made her complaint in December of 2015.

Lake Braddock Principal Dave Thomas has told parents that he didn’t know about the allegations against Coach Giannelli until March of 2016.

Parent Bill Park who filed the federal complaint against school officials said he had been approved to speak at the FCPS School Board meeting on Thursday, January 11, 2017.

© 2018 WUSA-TV


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