Burgeoning sex abuse scandal at St. George’s School (Episcopal)

The Boston Globe reports:

Two attorneys representing victims in the burgeoning sex abuse scandal at St. George’s School say that more than 40 people have contacted them with stories ranging from molestation to rape by staff and students at the Episcopalian prep school in Middletown, R.I., most of it in the 1970s and ’80s.

Some of those victims and the attorneys will hold a press conference Tuesday criticizing the school’s own investigation, detailed in a report last month, which identified 26 victims of sexual abuse at the prestigious school. The critics are also expected to call on the school to hire an independent agency or law firm to look into what happened to students on the hilltop campus overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Read it all.

Bishop Knisely has issued a letter to clergy of the Diocese of Rhode Island. An excerpt:

As of this morning, two Episcopal priests and a third person who has worked in Episcopal congregations have been named in the report or ensuing media coverage. One of the priests allegedly committed abuse and the other allegedly failed to report allegations of abuse made against a St. George’s employee as mandated by state law. The third individual is alleged to have committed abuse.

I have been in touch with bishops in whose dioceses the three men reside, and am currently working with other church leaders to make sure that appropriate disciplinary proceedings are initiated in the case of the clergy named.

As has been reported in the media, the Rhode Island State Police are conducting a criminal investigation into episodes discussed in the report.  I have been in contact with the State Police and I am following their direction as the investigation is being carried out. I can say little more at this point about the situation, but I want you to be aware that you may have people in your congregations or in the communities you serve whose lives have been touched by the terrible events at St. George’s, and that you may be called upon to respond to them with the utmost pastoral sensitivity.

The Boston Globe reported last month:

An investigation by St. George’s School has found that a total of 23 students were sexually abused by three school employees in the 1970s and ’80s, according to a draft of a report provided to the Globe Wednesday evening. The perpetrators were fired, but the prep school did not report them at the time to child protection services, as mandated by law.

In addition, three other employees during the same period engaged in sexual misconduct with a single student apiece, bringing the total to 26 victims of staff abuse, according to the draft report to alumni, signed by headmaster Eric Peterson and board chair Leslie Heaney.

More from the Providence Journal today and January 1. From today’s article in the Journal.

Attorney Eric MacLeish spoke in advance of a news conference Tuesday at which he and three women who say they were sexually victimized in the 1970s by the school’s former athletic trainer Al Gibbs, are scheduled to release a rebuttal to a Dec. 23, 2015, report by St. George’s School.

A few rebuttal highlights were included in a news release that announced the news conference. Allegations include:

— Past St. George’s administrators “repeatedly broke Rhode Island’s law that requires schools to report credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors”; and that current administrators in 2012 and 2015 “tried to ‘gag’ victims from talking about” abuse by Gibbs. Gibbs is now deceased.

— Two former St. George’s staff members — an assistant chaplain and the choir director — “left the school after they admitted to sexual misconduct with male students. No mandatory abuse report was made by the school. They both went on to work in schools and churches and are still in settings where they are at risk to re-offend.”

…MacLeish said the case “is unique” from other private school sex-abuse cases “in many tragic ways. The first is there is no statute of limitations on rape in Rhode Island at the time these events occurred. That makes criminal prosecution at least [in the case of] four individuals we know of now, possible.”

He said “the scope and magnitude” of is also unique, with more than 40 people stepping forward in the past two weeks who allege they were sexually assaulted at the school. He and co-counsel Carmen Durso have identified “seven [former] staff members and four [former] students who are alleged perpetrators.”

In 2015 another prestigious New England boarding school with Episcopal connections, St. Paul’s School, received wide news coverage involving student sexual predators.

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