Report on East Coast prep school details decades of sexual misconduct

Adjust Comment Print

Decades of sexual abuse dating back to the 1960s at the elite CT boarding school Choate Rosemary Hall were detailed in a new independent reported published Thursday.

The report came as a result of an independent investigation led by investigator and former prosecutor Nancy Kestenbaum of Covington & Burling LLP after the school engaged the firm to conduct the investigation.

During a school study overseas trip to Costa Rica in 1999, Rivera allegedly grabbed a 15-year-old student's breast and sexually assaulted a 17-year-old student on the same night in a swimming pool at a resort.

Many students who made these accusations didn't tell the school at the time of the incidents, the report said; in some cases, the school was informed years later, and sometimes the school was notified in real time.

No reports were received relating to current Choate students and no reports of sexual misconduct were substantiated regarding any current faculty members or staff, the report said. "In other cases, it was slower to respond and allowed the faculty member to remain at the school, sometimes with restrictions on his or her activity, for a considerable length of time", the report said.

The school began writing to its community in 2014, asking alumni to come forward with any information about inappropriate adult behavior they experienced at Choate.

"One can only have the greatest sympathy and deepest concern for the survivors", the statement released to the community says in part. The conduct of these adults violated the foundation of our community: "the sacred trust between students and the adults charged with their care", a chairman of the Board of Trustees, Michael J. Carr and Headmaster Alex Curtis wrote in the letter. The latest incident investigated took place in 2010.

During the investigation, Choate officials learned the alleged incidents involving Rivera had not been reported to the state Department of Children and Families, as required by law, so they reported them to the department and to Wamogo officials, school spokeswoman Lorraine Connelly said Friday.

At least 12 former faculty members at the Wallingford, Connecticut, school allegedly abused students between 1963 and 2010, according to the 50-page report by an outside investigator hired by Choate's board of trustees. "Sometimes the school moved quickly and decisively".

Eric MacLeish, who represents a 1992 Choate graduate who was allegedly abused by two teachers at the school, told the Boston Globe that the scale of the abuse is unique among private schools.

A grand jury report earlier this year detailed a half-century of sexual abuses at the boarding school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The report says he denied the allegations.

He went on to work as an administrator at Henry Abbott Technical High School in Danbury, Harrison High School in NY and Newtown High School, according to the report. However, other graduates said the culture at the school made it hard to report incidents and at the time they could not identify a school official who would have been sympathetic to a report. None of the incidents were reported to authorities.

"We profoundly apologize", Choate said in a statement acknowledging the findings. The school has announced a number of settlements with former students. Rivera-Murillo had been "hanging out" with five Choate students around a resort swimming pool and nearby bar where they had been drinking.