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posted by HM Action at 2016-01-07 05:58:00


BOSTON — St. George’s School, an elite Rhode Island prep school embroiled in a widening sexual abuse scandal spanning decades, said Thursday that it would commission a new, independent investigation into allegations of misconduct against former staff and former students.

The investigation is to be undertaken by a third party to be chosen with the approval of a group of victims who have been critical of the school’s handling of the matter.

The school and the victims group, which calls itself “S.G.S. for Healing,” said in a joint statement that the investigation would be independent, comprehensive and not limited “in scope or time period and will be conducted in a manner sensitive to victims who may have already provided information.”

The Rhode Island State Police are conducting a separate investigation. And the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania has restricted a retired priest from his duties after the priest was named Tuesday by lawyers for former students as having molested three boys at St. George’s in the 1970s.

The coed boarding and day school in Middletown issued an 11-page report Dec. 23 in which it said six former employees had abused 26 students in the 1970s and ’80s. The school acknowledged that it had failed to report the abuse to child

protection authorities, as required by law. It also apologized to the victims and said it would pay for counseling.

Some of the victims and their lawyers faulted the school’s report as a sanitized version of events and said it was not truly independent because it was conducted by a lawyer, Will Hannum, whose partner is the school’s counsel. Late last month, the victims began an online petition calling for an “objective and thorough investigation, conducted by an independent third party.” As of Thursday, it had more than 700 signatures.

The victims and their lawyers, Eric MacLeish and Carmen L. Durso, said at a news conference Tuesday that they had received at least 40 credible reports of sexual abuse, including rape, that took place from 1974 to 2004. The victims said the school had not taken their accounts seriously, and some called for the resignation of the current head of school, Eric Peterson.

In the joint statement Thursday, Leslie Heaney, a 1992 graduate of the school and chairwoman of its board of trustees, said: “The board is committed to a truly impartial investigation. There is nothing more important to us than that the review be thorough and exhaustive, and that its findings are found to be reliable and credible by all parties, particularly the victims.”

Anne Scott, a 1980 graduate of the school whose reports of her rape by the school’s now deceased athletic trainer touched off the investigations, said in the statement: “Today’s decision is a very important first step in what we hope will be a process of reconciliation and healing. We look forward to the input of all alumni/victims on today’s developments and the new investigation.”

On Tuesday, the victims group had named two of the former staff members whom multiple alumni had accused of sexual abuse. One was the Rev. Howard White, a retired Episcopal priest who has been serving on Sundays at St. James Episcopal Church in Bedford, Pa. Mr. White, who is in his 80s and who has not been charged with a crime, told The New York Times on Tuesday that the allegations were “news to me” and that he would have no comment.

But the Rev. Dr. Audrey Scanlan, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, said Wednesday she was restricting his ministry. A spokesman for the bishop said Mr. White was put on indefinite administrative leave and could not wear a clerical collar in public, could not say Mass, and could not act as a priest or represent himself as a priest in good standing.

posted at: 2016-01-07 05:58:00, last updated: 2016-01-10 06:01:01

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