Sexual abuse at boarding school went on for decades

Posted April 15, 2017

Choate Rosemary Hall, the elite CT boarding school, released a report Thursday detailing decades of alleged sexual abuse of students that went unreported or was handled quietly.

An investigator at the law firm, Covington & Burling LLP, reported that at least 12 former faculty members participated in some form of abuse between 1960s and 2010s. Another reported assault involving a different faculty member and two students happened during a school study overseas program in Costa Rica in 1999.

No current faculty or staff members have been implicated in the misconduct claims and there are no reports relating to any current students. In some cases, the report says, the school "allowed the faculty member to remain at the school, sometimes with restrictions on his or her activity, for a considerable period of time".

School officials noted in the report that the earliest reports of misconduct they received occurred in the 1960s, while a majority of the sexual abuse reports concerned incidents in the 1980s.

Choate officials did not provide references or recommendations for Rivera, the report says. "We extend our deepest apologies most specifically to all survivors of sexual misconduct and their loved ones". The conduct of these adults violated the foundation of our community: "the sacred trust between students and the adults charged with their care", write Michael J. Carr, chair of the board of trustees and Headmaster Alex Curtis.

School officials said Kestenbaum and a team of investigators spent seven months reviewing more than 23,000 pages of documents and interviewing more than 100 people, including alumni and former and current faculty, staff and trustees.

The investigator's report includes the names of 12 former faculty members who allegedly abused students - and in some instances, the sexual relationships continued after the students left the school. Individuals interviewed by investigators said the school cited the protection of faculty members, potential risks to the school, the impact on affected students and their parents' concerns for privacy as a reason for following this approach.

The report claims that it spoke to many former graduates who said they either did not report the abuse because they didn't realize it was abuse or because they did not think an administrator would "be sympathetic". "On at least one occasion, a faculty member remained until his voluntary retirement, some 10 years after a student reported an incident of sexual misconduct". The next morning, students told the school's administration what had happened, and the dean of students went to Costa Rica to investigate.

"On behalf of Choate Rosemary Hall, we profoundly apologize".

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.

Warning: the details in the report are graphic in nature that some readers may find offensive or disturbing. None of them were reported to the police.

"We honor and thank the survivors of sexual misconduct who came forward". The alleged assaults occurred while the teacher was the on-site Choate faculty leader of a study overseas program in San José, Costa Rica. The student's parents objected to the school's decision and, later that year, he was asked to resign.