Florida High School Student Expelled After Disclosure Of Work In Porn Industry

Robert-Marucci-TFNJ_0We have previously discussed the increasing discipline of both students and teachers for conduct outside of the schools. Now a case in Central Florida raises a significant free speech issue after a student was kicked out of his high school, Cocoa High School, for working in the porn industry. At first glance, this might appear reasonable but the problem is that Robert Marucci is 18 and therefore allowed to work in the industry. The industry itself is legal. Thus, the school has expelled a student for engaging in lawful conduct that many feel is morally repulsive.

The problem for Marucci began after students at Cocoa High School discovered his videos on an adult website. The case reminded me of an earlier case where parents “discovered” a former porn actress working in the lunch room. There is no issue with the accusers surfing such sites but the actor is fired. Students then passed around Marucci’s graphic pictures and he was the target of bullies. The school however did not expel the bullies. It expelled Marucci who was engaged in a lawful industry as a consenting adult. He was a senior about to graduate.

His work in the industry was known to his mother, Melyssa Lieb, who said that her son was doing the work to support her financially. I find that particularly sad, but I have great difficulty with the school’s actions if they are expelled a student for lawful conduct outside of the school. Controversies over the involvement in this industry has largely focused on teachers who had prior careers as adults (here and here and here).

School officials insist that he was a distraction and even threatened to bring a weapon to school, which he denies. Moreover, Lieb says that the principal stated that “He was expelled due to his explicit lifestyle career.”

In the meantime, students staged a walkout in protest of their treatment of their classmate — showing again a stronger belief in free speech among students than their teachers.

soliven_jpgIf the school is now saying that he violated some school code, the family clearly wants the charges to be made public. Thus, there is no privacy issue if the family is waiving objections. I would be particularly interested in seeing not just the specific charges but how such cases have been handled in the past. I must confess that I am suspicious and skeptical when school officials cite undefined “violations” in a case involving a controversy over public morality values. There has been no statement from the principal, Dr. Stephanie Soliven (right).

Unless the school can come up with some major violation unrelated to Marucci’s work, he would well advised to follow his school’s motto: “Perseverance Commands Success.” Perseverance might involve a trip to the federal courthouse and success might require an injunctive order.

39 thoughts on “Florida High School Student Expelled After Disclosure Of Work In Porn Industry

  1. Although not stated explicitly, I’m getting a vibe this was a gay porn site? I doubt he would get bullied if it were a hetero site. Let’s @ least be direct on the issues. I think he was a great suit against the school. Regarding the bullying, in a perfect world it wouldn’t matter if it were gay or hetero sex. But, in reality, I have no doubt this kid knew the consequences vis a vis his peers regarding gay porn. I have empathy for the kid. But, he knew the downside.

  2. Too often authorities take action that requires an individual to seek legal redress.

    If an 18 year old has to do porn work to support the family, what is the likelihood that they have sufficient money to hire a lawyer? Too often people go away embittered but with no means to redress a wrong.

    That leaves contingency lawyers (is there enough money at stake to attract that kind if talent?) and legal aid groups (Institute for Justice?) and they are over stretched.

    If the kid wins, the school will just spend some taxpayer money and move on.

    If the kid loses, everybody is out and an injustice persists.

    There needs to be some sort of punitive element in resolving potential abuses of authority.

  3. The school district is way over the line here and I agree that they family should take some legal action. How in heck can any school district have the ability to expel a student for engaging in lawful activities outside of school and off school grounds. It is a ludicrous move by these administrators.

  4. “He was expelled due to his explicit lifestyle career.” So if it wasn;t “career” it would be okay?. If not then they have to expel all who they know use illicit drugs, all who bully, all who cheat or do anything else illicit, and explicit (so therefore you need to learn to do illicit things far, far under the table)

  5. Unless the school can come up with some major violation unrelated to Marucci’s work, he would well advised to follow his school’s motto: “Perseverance Commands Success.” Perseverance might involve a trip to the federal courthouse and success might require an injunctive order.

    First read that unless the…… SOUL can ….

    This is just as about as crazy as anything I’ve heard of…..

  6. The other students who are passing around the photos and bullying Marucci are the ones guilty of the disruption. Have any of them been suspended for possessing pornography in school? That has got to be a violation.

  7. According to another news story, it was gay port without a condom. It’s a said commentary on the school that the reaction is to suspend him rather than be concerned about him.

  8. Florida seems to be a magnet for cases that seem made for reality television. it is pathetic that the kid feels compelled to do porn to support his mother and I have to wonder about her role in all of this. OTOH, he’s an adult and the schools have not put forward a specific policy that he’s violated. If he were a teacher, there’d probably be a morals clause that this would have violated.

  9. Maybe the civil right involved is not a free speech right. It is 14th Amendment equal protection under the laws Klaus and due process clause. If it is a public school then the principal is a “state actor” under Section 1983. In my Complaint I would stress, for humor, his role as a “private actor” and her role (if principal is a she) as a “state actor”. I don’t know why they spull the head of a school with the ending “pal”. They are never your pal.

    I would “out” the Principal and all school board members in public for anything that they have ever done which might embarrass them. I would go online and ask the Principal’s former school class mates what he or she did back in high school. Any photos out there of her in her underwear? Or him in his Klan uniform?

  10. I agree the school had no cause to expell this man. The only evidence if it went to trial he needs to present is a birth certificate, his w2 or 1099 forms from his employer and a copy of the expulsion letter and the school is done. Many schools can’t get past the In Loco Parentis attitude over their students. Once someone turns 18 that is over. But yet schools and in some cases colleges stil hold the belief it doesn’t. I can envision a summary judgement in favor of the student.

  11. The issue is not whether Mr. Marucci is employed in a field approved by the Brevard County School Board or Cocoa High School. The issue is simply whether he is employed lawfully. Furthermore, Mr. Marucci is not responsible for any scandal resulting from the immature reactions of students or others to the nature of his employment. Given his prompt reinstatement after this story became public knowledge, I suspect that counsel for the school board privately advised its members that the suspension by Principal Soliven could not be defended and exposed the board to potentially significant civil liability. There will now be a concerted effort to quietly bury the controversy.

  12. Perennial moral scold and all around hater of gay and trans people “Crunchy Con” Rod Dreher over at The American Conservative is very concerned and very angry that the student in this case has been readmitted to school. Natch, he is also sad that several students staged a walk-out in support of Marucci.

  13. I believe the school officials that this was not related to his porn work. This kind of reminds me of the Matthew Shepard fiasco where gay rights activists created a false story to further their cause.

  14. “This kind of reminds me of the Matthew Shepard fiasco where gay rights activists created a false story to further their cause.” -davidm2575

    Debunking Stephen Jimenez’s Effort To De-Gay Matthew Shepard’s Murder

    October 2, 2013

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/10/02/debunking-stephen-jimenezs-effort-to-de-gay-mat/196229

    —–

    From Wikipedia:

    “In September 2013, The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard by Stephen Jimenez, the producer of the 20/20 segment, was published. The book revived and expanded upon claims by the author that Shepard’s murder was at least partly drug-related and that, contrary to the generally accepted version of events, his sexual orientation was not a major motive for the crime. Additionally the author claimed that Shepard and at least one of his killers (McKinney) had been occasional sexual partners. This book has, however, been criticized by culture critic Alyssa Rosenberg as being poorly sourced. Police officials interviewed after the book’s publication have also disputed the claims made in the book. Dave O’Malley said that Jimenez’s claims that Shepard was “a methamphetamine kingpin [] is almost humorous. Someone that would buy into that certainly would believe almost anything they read.” Rob Debree, lead sheriff’s investigator at the time, said that the book contains “factual errors and lies”, and said that Jimenez’s claim that Shepard was a drug dealer is “truly laughable.”” (http://ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=69201)

  15. AP – All you shared is just a big smoke screen to hide the truth. Read the book for yourself. There are lots of people making a living off Matt’s death and they are collecting money based upon it being a hate crime. The truth is obvious that it was a drugs and money robbery gone bad. The evidence is very clear. They beat up others after murdering Matt, fracturing one of the guys skull, with the same motivation of robbery. If the fight wasn’t broken up, there would probably have been additional deaths, only the victims were not gay.

  16. AP – Did you overlook the following from your link to ebar?

    In The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths about the Murder of Matthew Shepard, gay author Stephen Jimenez, who began work on the book more than a dozen years ago, said he relied on his interviews with over 100 people – including McKinney, Henderson, and numerous law enforcement officials, and several people who knew Shepard – as well as “voluminous public records.”
    … …

    Former Albany County Attorney Cal Rerucha, who prosecuted McKinney and Henderson and is quoted extensively in the book.
    … …

    Rerucha, who’s now the Carbon County, Wyoming attorney, praised Jimenez’s work. The book recalls how Laramie was flooded with media attention that eventually evaporated. Rerucha said there’d been “an absolute frenzy.”

    “Everybody wants to talk to people while the trial is going on, and we’re ethically not able to do that.” When McKinney’s trial ended, there were “very few people that were interested, and they just all left.”

    Rerucha said even though he’d offered to discuss the case and the records involved after it concluded, Jimenez was one of the only people “that really looked at the files.” He said The Book of Matt is “fair.”

    “Certainly, everything that personally, as far as he said about me is probably correct. I’ve known Steve for a long time. He’s worked on this, gosh, for 14 years. … From a historical standpoint, I think he did a very good job.”

  17. David,
    You are entitled to your opinions, but slandering a dead kid, and lying about the murder to further your homophobic agenda, is over the top. Shameful.

  18. The book’s central assertions, in fact, are both factually flawed and, at bottom, profoundly irrelevant. They are also essentially recycled. -David Neiwert, ACLU

    Far Right Embraces Book That Rewrites Matthew Shepard Case

    By David Neiwert on September 26, 2013

    Excerpt:

    http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2013/09/26/far-right-embraces-book-that-rewrites-matthew-shepard-case/

    Right-wing pundits, radio hosts and bloggers are celebrating a brand new book purporting to demonstrate that Matthew Shepard’s brutal 1998 murder in Wyoming was not an anti-gay hate crime, but rather a simple drug-motivated crime fueled by crystal methamphetamine. The book is capped by the sensational, and utterly unproven, claim that Shepard had previously engaged in gay sex with his eventual murderer.

    These are not new claims — the allegation that the murder was primarily drug-fueled was in fact aired during the trial of Shepard’s killers. Similarly, claims that the chief perpetrator, Aaron McKinney, had had sex with Shepard, had previously surfaced. But McKinney has angrily denied those claims, and they are based on nothing more than hearsay evidence from questionable witnesses.

    The book’s central assertions, in fact, are both factually flawed and, at bottom, profoundly irrelevant. They are also essentially recycled.

  19. OS wrote: “You are entitled to your opinions, but slandering a dead kid, and lying about the murder to further your homophobic agenda, is over the top. Shameful.”

    Unbelievable bigotry on your part. I have said nothing demeaning toward Matthew Shepard, God rest his soul. It is far more demeaning on your part to refer to him impersonally as a “dead kid.” His death was tragic and should not happen to anybody. I guarantee I know more about Matthew Shepard’s life and death than people like you will ever know because I actually read from a variety of sources, including the book published by Jimenez. I deplore those who raped Matt as well as those who murdered him. I also guarantee you that I have more feelings of endearment toward Matt than you do, because I know about his life more intimately than you do. I have neither slandered him nor lied about his murder. The people lying have been the ones who claim Matt’s murder was motivated by hatred toward gays. Where is your outrage about that? Instead you choose to bury your head in the sand from information so you can continue in your fantasy while you jab at those more interested in truth. Shame on you.

  20. ap quoted David Neiwart: “The book is capped by the sensational, and utterly unproven, claim that Shepard had previously engaged in gay sex with his eventual murderer.”

    This is a very small part of the book and it is reported in a way that leads one to question whether it was true or not. Not even the author takes a position on it. He only reports the details about it and discusses the circumstantial evidence.

    ap quoted David Neiwart: “These are not new claims — the allegation that the murder was primarily drug-fueled was in fact aired during the trial of Shepard’s killers.”

    True, these are not new claims. The book of Matt provides a lot of information all in one source, information from a 14 year investigation by a gay man.

    ap quoted David Neiwart: “But McKinney has angrily denied those claims, and they are based on nothing more than hearsay evidence from questionable witnesses.”

    LOL. Neiwart relies upon the most questionable witness of all, Aaron McKinney. McKinney is a proven liar, thief, and murderer who also is known to be a hot head. Rerucha, the attorney prosecuting the case, said McKinney would murder again.

    ap quoted David Neiwart: “The book’s central assertions, in fact, are both factually flawed and, at bottom, profoundly irrelevant. They are also essentially recycled.”

    This is ridiculous to call this the book’s central assertions. Why don’t you just read the book rather than quoting critics?

    What is relevant to this case is that McKinney was never convicted in court for a hate crime against gays. He was convicted of felony murder, kidnapping, and aggravated robbery.

    What is relevant is that neither McKinney nor Henderson were known to be homophobic or anti-gay or whatever label you want to use. They frequented gay bars and McKinney traded sex with other men for money. Several men reported having had sex with McKinney, and then there is the circumstantial evidence reported in the book about the threesome between Matt, Aaron, and Doc. Although there remains some doubt about the infamous threesome, it seems pretty clear that murderer Aaron McKinney and victim Matthew Shepard were friends. They were not anonymous people who just happened to meet at the Fireside Lounge that fateful night.

    What is relevant is how Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson were caught. After murdering Matt, they went to go rob Matt’s apartment because they only got $20 off him. When they got out of the truck to go to Matt’s apartment, they got into a fight with two Hispanic guys. McKinney fractured the skull of one of them. The police came and they took off. When an officer caught them, he found the blood soaked pistol in the back of their truck which connected them to the murder. The point is that McKinney was not just hurting gay people that night. He hurt others. His motivation was robbery. Unfortunately, Matt’s frail body only lasted 5 days after the beating and he died. Then the media went crazy with gossip about this being a hate crime, and the whole world believed a lie. Many today continue to believe that lie and refuse to examine the truth. For some, it has become their religion.

  21. “Why don’t you just read the book rather than quoting critics?” – brought to us by the all-knowing “David”

    Gotta be careful about those assumptions.

    Again:

    “The book’s central assertions, in fact, are both factually flawed and, at bottom, profoundly irrelevant. They are also essentially recycled.” (SPLC)

  22. Could the agenda from David’s side and his “sources” be an anti gay agenda, Shepard was a drug dealing bum, the folks who say it was a hate crime are liars and bums. Liberals want to make this a “pro-gay” issue when we all know that there was no hate crime against this (*&%*^

  23. “when we all know that there was no hate crime against this (*&%*^”

    You say its not a hate crime and then call him a derogatory name. Lol… some people are just too stupid to argue with.

  24. porn business is the biggest misunderstood industry but still it has achieved the heights of success without bothering about the hurdles. Adult business is leading and will going to lead this globe no matter what happens.

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