Ex-New England prep school students call for sex abuse investigation
By Associated Press | January 6, 2016, 6:32 EDT
BOSTON (AP) — Two former students of a prestigious Rhode Island boarding school spoke haltingly or cried Tuesday as they detailed being sexually abused as teenagers by an ex-athletic trainer. A third former student said he was raped with a broomstick by another pupil and described how his assault was so well-known on campus that there was a joking reference to it in the yearbook.
The three former students, who spoke at a Boston news conference, are among dozens who allege they were sexually abused at St. George’s School in Middletown, where tuition costs $56,000 a year. Lawyers who represent them said they have heard from 40 people who have reported being molested or raped by former school staffers and students, most during the 1970s and 1980s but some as recently as 2004.
The former students called on the school to commission an independent investigation of the allegations and to set up a fund to help pay for therapy for the victims.
In a prepared statement, the school apologized “for the harm done to alumni by former employees and former students of the school.”
“We also apologize that the way in which the school addressed these incidents has served to compound this harm,” the statement said.
The school said it has authorized reimbursement for counseling for victims.
“We recognize the long-lasting impact of sexual abuse and are dedicated to working with survivors to aid them in healing from its painful aftermath,” the school said.
Last month, the school said its investigation found that 26 students were sexually abused by six school employees in the 1970s and ’80s. It acknowledged it didn’t report abusers to authorities at the time and apologized for not doing more.
But the accusers say they are not satisfied with the school’s investigation, particularly since it was conducted by the law partner of the school’s attorney.
Anne Scott and Katie Wales Lovkay, who attended St. George’s in the late 1970s, described being led through the boys locker room into a training room by the school’s now-deceased athletic trainer. Scott said she was repeatedly raped by the trainer over a two-year period, beginning when she was 15. The trainer was 67.
Lovkay said the trainer repeatedly sexually abused her and took pictures of her naked, then showed them to male students. She said she was taunted mercilessly.
“I became known as the slut of the school,” she said. Lovkay said she reported the abuse to the school’s headmaster, but he did nothing.
“I was made to believe that I was nuts,” she said.
Both women described years of mental health issues following the assaults, including eating disorders, post-traumatic stress syndrome and alcoholism. The Associated Press typically doesn’t name accusers of sexual assault but is naming the three former students who appeared at the news conference because they have come forward publicly.
Rhode Island State Police began investigating in November and encourage any other victims to come forward. There is no statute of limitations on rape in Rhode Island.
State Police Col. Steven O’Donnell said not reporting a sex assault is a misdemeanor, though he would not discuss the specifics of the St. George’s case.
Harry Groome, who said he was raped with a broomstick in front of several other students, said he wrote a letter describing the rape to the school’s headmaster in 2002, but no action was taken. He said he met with the school’s current headmaster in 2012.
“I want this school to thrive in the future, but it cannot thrive until we flush out the bad,” Groome said.
— Written by Denise Lavoie
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