Decades of sexual abuse at elite US school: Report

An internal investigation initiated by Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut found that 12 of its former faculty members had engaged in sexual misconduct with students dating back nearly 60 years.
An internal investigation initiated by Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut found that 12 of its former faculty members had engaged in sexual misconduct with students dating back nearly 60 years.PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK • Choate Rosemary Hall is known for being one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the United States, an institution with alumni like President John F. Kennedy, two-time presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson, actor Michael Douglas and President Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka.

The elite private school is also a place that has for decades fostered a pattern of sexual abuse and misconduct between teachers and students, according to a troubling new internal investigation initiated by the school to address abuse allegations.

The 48-page report released on Thursday was produced by a team of investigators who 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 report names 12 former Choate faculty members who engaged in what it said were substantiated instances of sexual misconduct with students dating back nearly 60 years, five of whom are dead.

The report recounts the alleged abuse in explicit detail, documenting the experiences described by 24 survivors, some of them as recent as 2010. The report notes that in some cases the school acted swiftly to address the alleged abuse, but in many cases it failed to alert police or allowed faculty members to resign, avoiding serious legal consequences.

One of the most extreme allegations of assault stems from a 1999 incident involving a teacher from September 1998 to October 1999.

The alleged assaults occurred while the teacher was the on-site Choate faculty leader of a study abroad programme in San Jose, Costa Rica. His victims, the report said, were a 15-year-old female student who he is accused of fondling and a 17-year-old student he is accused of raping in a swimming pool.

The former student told investigators she and the teacher were in the pool, when he "told her he and his wife were separated (sic) 'I have these problems. I am a man'".

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.

The teacher was fired for "just cause" after the incident, but continued to teach at other schools. The report said that "he denied that he engaged in sexual misconduct with any Choate students" when investigators interviewed him last month.

The report also includes details about a popular English teacher and coach who it says began a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student that took place on student trips and lasted until her college years. Another instructor reportedly kissed female students and propositioned a 15-year-old with a weekend sex trip.

Choate is the latest in a string of private schools, including St George's School in Rhode Island and New York City's Horace Mann and Poly Prep schools, that have faced accusations that faculty members have abused students.

WASHINGTON POST, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 16, 2017, with the headline 'Decades of sexual abuse at elite US school: Report'. Print Edition | Subscribe