Police Investigating Sexual Abuse Claims at Prestigious New England Boarding School
By Chris Harris 01/06/2016
Two New England attorneys are saying they've been in touch with more than 40 alumni of an affluent Rhode Island boarding school that allege staff members or other pupils sexually assaulted them during the 1970s and 1980s.
PEOPLE spoke Wednesday with Eric MacLeish, one of the two lawyers behind a press conference held on Tuesday in which four graduates of the St. George's School in Middletown accused school officials of covering up years of systemic abuse.
"I have never run across anything like this," MacLeish, who has spent his career representing victims of childhood sexual abuse, tells PEOPLE; he's a St. George's alum.
"Officials were not reporting claims from students but instead, imposing gag orders on those victims," MacLeish explains. "There are prosecutable crimes that occurred here and I expect more victims will be coming forward."
At Tuesday's press conference, MacLeish and his co-counsel, attorney Carmen Durso, issued a 36-page response to findings released by St. George's headmaster, Eric Peterson, and the school's Board of Trustees back in December.
The school's own report, which was obtained by PEOPLE, capped a 10-month investigation into sex abuse allegations from 26 staff and students who'd worked at or attended the school during the '70s and '80s.
It concluded there was no evidence to indicate school officials "simply ignored" complaints of sexual misconduct while acknowledging "the school could have done more to keep its students safe." The school's report also included an apology and outlined steps administrators would be taking to get potential victims mental health counseling.
But Tuesday's detailed response alleges school administrators deliberately dropped the ball, failing to report known or suspected abuse to Rhode Island's Department of Children, Youth and Families. Instead, offenders were either terminated or expelled, MacLeish claims....
Dozens of alums from elite boarding school come forward with tales of sexual abuse Jan 7th 2016
More than 40 Rhode Island boarding school alumni are speaking out, demanding justice for a string of alleged sexual assaults by staff and peers going back into the 1970s.....