Joe Rapuano-Novella, a former employee, and another plaintiff, Dylan Pace, are suing the umbrella company Outpost Pines which owns several entertainment and food venues at the gay resort of Fire Island Pines. Rapuano-Novella and Pace are suing their former manager Mario Priola and owner PJ McAteer for sexual harassment and assault.
Fire Island Pines is the resort featured on the Logo reality show.
He and Pace interviewed in March 2016 for jobs at “The Pines,” an enclave of bars and restaurants which cater primarily to the LGBTQ community, according to their Brooklyn federal court filing.
Rapuano-Novella was “hired on the spot” via Skype during a bizarre interview in which Priola asked him to take off his shirt, the suit says. Pace, a Long Island resident, was asked to report to Priola’s hot tub on the island, the suit alleges.
Before Rapuano-Novella even got to Fire Island, Priola, who was twice his age, allegedly sent him “inappropriate texts,” noting in one that “you’re perfect” and asking for explicit photos, the suit says.
Rapuano-Novella charges in the suit that Priola repeatedly asked him to sleep over and “groped his penis.”
I haven’t yet come forward with my #metoo story because I was waiting for the right moment. A lot of people know I worked on Fire Island last year. My time on the island was abruptly cut short when a series of dark harassments and assaults at the hands of my boss drove me from the place. I’m so proud of everyone who is able to come forward and discuss tales of their harassment experience. Sexual harassments and assaults are rife in the gay community and it’s time that people start really talking about their experience. I have been harassed, attacked, groped, embarrassed, and manipulated by forces in power who tried to use me- and I am not alone in my experience.
The day I reported the harassment to HR and the owner of the business, they told me there was “nothing they could do,” despite showing them proof of disgusting text messages, money that had been siphoned into my account with the suggestion of “sexual payment,” and evidence of voice recordings that I had been assaulted. As I sailed away from the island, I knew I could either live with this experience, or fight like hell on behalf of our community to make sure it stops. I’m using my voice.
The trauma of these experiences is that they are relived every day. By people across the country who have been hurt and abused and taken advantage of by men. This isn’t easy, and won’t be moving forward. This ball has been rolling since the day I was forced to leave my job and it won’t stop until the issue is made clear- you are not alone with your abuse: outside of gender, community, and orientation. If it has happened to you, you have the power to affect change.