“#Former NYC student wore wire to catch alleged predator teacher”
Nicholaos Papadopoulos, 53, says when he learned that Lawrence Svrcek taught at Francis Lewis High School in Queens in 2002, he felt he had to step forward to “potentially save someone.”
He said 20 years earlier, Svrcek, a gym teacher, sexually abused him and other boys at the Jamaica Day School run by St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Queens. At the time, he says he and another boy told school officials, who booted Svrcek as a Boy Scout leader but allowed him to keep teaching. Svrcek also taught briefly at St. John’s University in 1999 and at John Bowne HS in Flushing.
Papadopoulos said when he reported Svrcek’s conduct to the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the city’s public schools in 2002, he was met with disbelief until he agreed to wear a wire.
He said he was petrified, but confronted Svrcek at Francis Lewis HS where, he says, the teacher “acknowledged everything.” Three others boys also came forward to investigators.
“Because too much time has passed, Lawrence Svrcek cannot be prosecuted; nevertheless, his inexcusable acts of sexual abuse toward these four male students were criminal and horribly wrong,” according to Special Investigator Richard Condon’s 2002 report, recommending that he be fired. He resigned in 2003, according to the Department of Education.
Papadopoulos says he understands St. Demetrious Church briefly hired Svrcek back after he left the DOE.
“That school and that community had one job — protect the kids,” he said. “I think we need to hold these institutions accountable.”
He is now one of 14 plaintiffs suing Svrcek, 74, and the church under the state’s Child Victims Act.
“Nick is a hero for coming forward, protecting public school students, and working to bring accountability to religious organizations,” said his lawyer, Joseph Belluck.
Svrcek’s lawyer did not respond to requests for comment. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese said it “abhors sexual abuse of children and maintains robust policies to prevent the type of conduct alleged in the complaints.”
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