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Crime

New York Priest Sued by Catholic School Teachers for Allegedly Using Profane, Racist and Verbally Abusive Language

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Dominik Bindl/Getty

The principal at a Catholic high school on New York’s Staten Island has allegedly fostered a toxic environment by using profane language and making racist, sexist and ageist comments, according to a civil lawsuit obtained by PEOPLE.

The suit, filed earlier this month, states that Father Michael Reilly, the principal at St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School, engaged in patterns of “defamatory character assassination” and “gender discrimination, creating a hostile workplace for at least one guidance counselor and two of the school’s teachers.”

The lawsuit alleges the Archdiocese of New York has failed to remove Reilly from his position, even after receiving complaints about his behavior.

According to the filing, Reilly has “unleashed a constant stream of rude, crude and inappropriate remarks” on the school’s staffers and has become infamous for his use of profane language.

The suit further alleges the priest regularly used gender-specific expletives and racist and homophobic slurs in conversation, and even accused one of the school’s employees of being a pedophile.

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According to the lawsuit, Reilly also berated some educators for being overweight, labelled one teacher an alcoholic, and condemned another for taking time off after being diagnosed with cancer.

“These crude and vulgar statements were intended to discriminate against the plaintiffs,” reads the suit, which further accuses the priest of deliberately striving to faze out older teachers.

The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages.

After news of the lawsuit first made headlines in New York, a member of the Saturday Night Live cast came forward to support the allegations.

Comic Pete Davidson, a Staten Island native who graduated from St. Joseph by-the-Sea, posted on Instagram a photograph of a print news story about the suit.

The caption reads: “I went to this high school and I’m glad something is finally being done about Father Reilly. He is an absolute monster and has ruined that high school. He should have been fired years ago.”

PEOPLE’s attempts to reach Reilly for comment were unsuccessful last week. St. Joseph by-the-Sea administrators were also unavailable for comment.

Calls to Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, also were unreturned.