Monday, May 16, 2016

ABUSE OF TRUST - Private Schools

"Private schools kept decades of sexual abuse secret" PBS NewsHour 5/9/2016


SUMMARY:  Startling allegations of sexual abuse in private schools have surfaced over the past few years.  At least eight schools in New England have launched or disclosed sexual abuse investigations this year alone; according to a new Boston Globe report, some 67 schools in the region have faced similar accusations since 1991.  Hari Sreenivasan talks to Todd Wallack of the Boston Globe.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  The past couple of years have brought new revelations about sexual abuse at private schools.  At least eight private schools in New England have launched or disclosed investigations this year.

Now a Boston Globe investigation has opened a wider window on the scope of the problem.  The report done by the Spotlight unit that exposed the sexual abuse scandal in the church found at least 67 New England schools have faced accusations since 1991.  The Globe also found more than 200 former students say they have been assaulted or harassed, and years of alleged cover-ups in some cases.

St. George’s School in Rhode Island is one school under investigation.

Anne Scott is a survivor who was allegedly raped in 1977 at the school by a former athletic trainer when she was 15.  Her family later brought a lawsuit, but The Globe said the school fought back with its own suit and pressured her to sign a gag order.

Here’s part of what she told The Globe.

ANNE SCOTT, Abuse Survivor:  They really turned hostile and were trying to come after that, deposing all our neighbors, deposing all my roommates, all community members.

So, I got shocked.  I wasn’t as strong then, I think, to put it in context, as I am now.  And it became a lot of pressure.  I just said, no amount of money is worth tearing my family apart.

When you are assaulted as a child and a victim of rape, you lose your voice.  You lose your soul.  You are sort of destroyed as a person, your confidence, your self-image.  And the gag order just seals all that in.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  The trainer died in 1996.

Lawyers for victims now say as many as 50 alumni from the school were abused, mostly by staff.

Todd Wallack is a member of the Spotlight team, joins me now.

So, give us an idea of how widespread this is.  This isn’t just a couple of private schools in New England.

TODD WALLACK, The Boston Globe:  No, it’s much wider than a lot of us ever imagined.

We originally started reporting on this after Anne Scott, the survivor you featured, broke her silence, broke the gag order and spoke out about the abuse that she suffered at St. George’s in December.  And that prompted other victims to come forward, many after decades and decades where they had kept this secret.

And we started building a list.  And it kept getting longer and longer.  Some were reported before individually.  Others hadn’t.  We looked through lawsuits.  We talked to lawyers.  Since our story on Sunday, we have been getting flooded with tips about additional schools, showing that we have not even captured the full scope of all the abuse that’s gone on.

No comments: