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Choate hid sexual abuse for decades

20 April 2017

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.

Twelve teachers at Wallingford's Choate Rosemary Hall are accused of sexual misconduct in a 48-page report prepared for the school's board of trustees by an independent investigator hired by the institution.

The school has acknowledged the findings, and it released the report "to demonstrate its commitment to transparency and its pledge to be at the forefront of the highest standard of care in preventing and addressing adult sexual misconduct", spokeswoman Lorraine Connelly said.

For one case, the faculty member stayed at the school until he voluntarily retired, according to the report.

Rivera was sacked by Choate shortly after the alleged acts. "I am a man.'" He then, according to the students, began touching her intimately, removed his own shorts and forcibly engaged in sex, with other students nearby.

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The Spanish teacher in the 1999 incident was sacked but then worked at several other CT schools. "Inaction by others has put Wamogo and Region 6 in an untenable situation, a situation that is unfair to our students, parents, and community", Litchfield's superintendent, Edward Drapp, said in a statement. "One can only have the greatest sympathy and deepest concern for the survivors", the letter reads. A Boston Globe piece detailed abuse allegations in 2016, leading to the school's official investigation that launched that year. It covers a period from 1963 to 2010, and describes numerous examples of adult sexual misconduct at the school and includes what the school calls "the deeply disturbing experiences of 24 survivors".

Kestenbaum agreed with Mones in the report, noting that the "inherent intimacy of a boarding school environment... in which faculty advisers live in student dorms and are expected to visit students in their rooms, in which teachers have students into their apartments on occasion, and in which adults and adolescents sometimes travel off campus together, requires particular vigilance".

None of the teachers or faculty members named in the report now teach at the school and investigators say they did not review or receive any reports related to current Choate students. The conduct of these adults violated the foundation of our community: "the sacred trust between students and the adults charged with their care".

A letter to the Choate community from two school leaders says the report "devastating to read". The student's parents objected to the school's decision and, later that year, he was asked to resign.

"Certain Choate graduates described themselves as having been flattered, at the time", by the attention from adults, but "later recognized that the conduct had been abusive", the report said. The report also discusses another instructor who it says kissed female students and propositioned one 15-year-old with a weekend trip where the two of them could engage in sex.

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The alleged abuse highlighted by the report varies widely, ranging from inappropriate touching and kissing to sexual intercourse.

Only five of the 12 teachers named in Choate's report are still alive; it is unclear what consequences they will face. "But told (investigators) they later recognized that the conduct had been abuse".

Rivera-Murillo was sacked, but the school failed to report him to the police, after he was accused by several students of inappropriately touching and sexually assaulting a teenage classmate while on a study overseas trip to Costa Rica, according to the report.

"Sexual misconduct matters were handled internally and quietly", the board of trustees report states.

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Choate hid sexual abuse for decades