The School Administrators Acknowledge Sexual Abuse at Prestigious Private School Choate Went On For Over Five Decades

Choate Rosemary Hall2
Choate Rosemary Hall, an elite boarding school in Wallingford, Conn., has finally acknowledged decades of sexual abuse by former teachers against the students entrusted to their care in a report on Thursday.The report, written for the board of trustees by an investigator at the law firm Covington & Burling LLP, documented the actions of at least 12 former faculty members, beginning in the 1960s and into the 2010s. The claims of abuse include instances of “intimate kissing,” “sexual intercourse” and “forced or coerced intercourse.”

Choate Rosemary Hall

The report said that no current faculty members were implicated in abuse and that there were no reports relating to current students. In some cases, administrators had written letters of recommendation for teachers who resigned after being confronted with evidence of misconduct.

 

“Our interviews and school records showed that sometimes the school moved quickly and decisively,” 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.”

 

Choate is a rarefied boarding school in Connecticut whose blue-blooded alumni include President John F. Kennedy and his brother Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. It joins a string of prestigious private schools that have faced accusations of sexual abuse by faculty members. St. George’s School, in Rhode Island, announced in 2015 that it was investigating “multiple credible reports” of sexual abuse against its students in the 1970s and ’80s.

 

Paul Mones, a lawyer who represents victims of sexual abuse, said private schools can be particularly prone to such attacks.

 

“They are closed systems, especially residential private schools where kids are separated from their parents,” Mr. Mones said. “It’s not like a public school with people coming in and out all the time. There are many more opportunities for teachers to do this.”

 

The report on Choate said the school kept accusations of sexual misconduct from being publicized for years. “Sexual misconduct matters were handled internally and quietly,” it said. “Even when a teacher was terminated or resigned in the middle of the school year 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 and, when told, was cautioned to say nothing about the situation if asked.”

 

Cheyenne Montgomery, who graduated from Choate in 1992, was abused by two teachers named in the report. In a telephone interview, Ms. Montgomery described herself as an unusual Choate student because she had very little money.

 

A math teacher encouraged students to come to him for extra help, and during her sophomore year, he suggested she visit him to study, she recounted.

 

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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:   Choate
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