Sexual abuse at boarding school went on for decades

NBC Boston
NBC Boston
Author

15 April, 2017

Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut, where tuition today costs in excess of $43,500, released a report detailing alleged sexual misconduct by 12 former teachers against students from 1963 to 2010.

The 48-page report, which was prepared by an investigator at the law firm Covington & Burling LLP, acknowledges a pattern of abuse that lasted until the 2010s.

That was the case with a teacher who reportedly tried to force himself on a student in a swimming pool while he was chaperoning a trip to Costa Rica in 1999, according to the report.

Even when a teacher was terminated or resigned because he or she had engaged in sexual misconduct with a student, the rest of the faculty was told little and sometimes nothing about the teacher's departure, the report said.

When the school, which includes President John F. Kennedy among its graduates, learned of sexual misconduct involving its faculty, it handled the improprieties internally and quietly rather than reporting them to police, the report said.

The investigation did not find any reports related to current students or substantiate any reports against current faculty. "Ms. Kestenbaum's report notes that in some circumstances, Choate acted swiftly and decisively in response to reports of sexual misconduct, but in others it did not".

Choate officials did not provide references or recommendations for Rivera, the report says. "One can only have the greatest sympathy and deepest concern for the survivors", the letter reads. The conduct of these adults violated the foundation of our community: the sacred trust between students and the adults charged with their care.

The coeducational boarding school hired Kestenbaum to conduct an investigation in October after the Boston Globe reported one faculty member had a sexually inappropriate relationship with a student in 1992.

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Choate said it had been compelled to examine this ugly history in 2013, after two alumni alerted the school to sexual misconduct they had experienced as students, the report said.

The report comes after a series of sexual abuse scandals at other exclusive New England boarding schools, including Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire; Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts; and St. George's School in Middletown, Rhode Island. The report says he denied the allegations.

In a statement by the school, Choate said the school's administration has chose to release the full contents of the independent investigator's report in a "commitment to transparency".

The report adds that Choate kept the incidents quiet.

"The detailed content of this report is devastating to read". The statement continued: "On behalf of Choate Rosemary Hall, we profoundly apologize".

Most horrific is the complete lack of action on the part of the administration-not a single incident was reported to the police.

'We hope that through this report, our community can address the issue of adult sexual misconduct in a frank and direct manner, ' a letter written by Michael J. Carr, the chairman of the board of trustees, and Alex D. Curtis, the headmaster said. The two girls' stories were confirmed by two other students, the report said.

Alleged witnesses, all former students, told investigators that the teacher began touching her sexually before removing his shorts and forcing her to have sex in the vicinity of other students.


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