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Florida: High School Senior Expelled for Adult Video Work

At Cocoa High School in Brevard County, FL controversy erupted when school officials suspended an eighteen-year old student upon learning that he was employed as a performer for a sexually explicit gay media company. After protests from other students and community representatives in the central Florida school district, the suspension was rescinded.

Parent Melyssa Lieb found herself battling school administrators who moved unilaterally to issue a ten-day suspension to her son Robert Marucci, who appeared as “Noel” in five sexually explicit videos available at the adult website SeanCody.com between October and December 2013.

The suspension would have led to an automatic failure for the academic year. Peers attending Cocoa High discovered Marucci’s condomless “bareback” sex videos on the internet and, according to a Miami Herald reporter, “bullied him after the discovery.”[1]

Early word of the controversy surfaced on the social media site Reddit, when someone who knew of Marucci through a mutual acquaintance posted the following:

"My cousin is a schoolmate with the model who plays Noel. Apparently this last week word got out around the school that he was in gay porn. He got severely bullied and, instead of helping him, the school will not let him graduate due to him causing a 'campus disturbance'. They suspended him for 10 days, which leads to an automatic FA (failure from absences).

Several students planned to protest by wearing support shirts, making posters, and skipping a class. The principle [sic] is threatening to automatically expel any student who joins in.

I am still very closeted, and it hurts to hear friends and family think this guy is a sick and disturbed person by being in gay porn."[2]

As noted above, despite the harassment that Marucci faced from some of his classmates, many others expressed support and pressured the school administration to permit his return. Supporters noted that as a legal adult, he was free to make his own decisions about his employment and that none of his activities involved the school.

Lieb, Marucci’s mother, came to his defense, noting that her son was motivated by a desire to help support her financially: “I think he’s the most awesome person in the world,” she said. “He stood up and he was the man of the house when I couldn’t be.”[3]

After Cocoa High reversed its decision and allowed Marucci to resume classes, school district spokesperson Michelle Irwin defended the district’s process for investigating the student’s activities: “No child would ever be suspended for a job that they have outside of the school environment…In this particular case, we had an investigation, which is now complete, and the student is welcomed to come back to talk to [principal Stephanie Soliven] about his educational options,” said Irwin.[4]

Asked whether the student had violated Florida obscenity laws, Assistant State Attorney Wayne Holmes said:

“We’re basically in a society today where consenting adults can do what consenting adults want to do...What 30, 40, or 50 years ago may have been a crime, you can now go to a local movie theater and see.”[5]
 


[1] Steve Rothaus, “Central Florida student, 18, kicked out of high school after peers discover he starred in bareback sex film,” Gay South Florida Blog, MiamiHerald.com, undated post, accessed February 5, 2014 at http://miamiherald.typepad.com/gaysouthflorida/2014/01/central-florida-student-18-kicked-out-of-high-school-after-peers-discover-he-starred-in-bareback-sex-film.html.
 
[2] “School Backtracks After Suspending Student Robert Marucci For Starring In Sean Cody Gay Porn Video,” Huffington Post (UK), January 22, 2014, accessed February 5, 2014 at http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/01/22/us-student-suspended-sean-cody-gay-porn-video_n_4642576.html?utm_hp_ref=uk
 
[3] “UPDATE: Florida Teen Expelled For Performing In Porn Allowed Back To School,” Tampa.CBSlocal.com, January 21, 2014, accessed February 5, 2014, at http://tampa.cbslocal.com/2014/01/21/florida-teen-expelled-for-performing-in-porn-allowed-back-to-school/

[4] Ibid. 

[5] Stacey Barchenger, “After porn-movie controversy, Cocoa High senior ready to return to school,” FloridaToday.com, January 22, 2014, accessed February 5, 2014 at http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20140122/NEWS01/301220020/After-porn-movie-controversy-Cocoa-High-senior-ready-return-school?nclick_check=1.

  

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