A private girls boarding school in upstate New York has released a report detailing sexual misconduct by school faculty members dating back decades.
WTEN-TV says that the report from the Emma Willard School in Troy, N.Y., reveals a dark side at the school extending nearly 70 years. The report’s authors interviewed 75 former students and faculty about their experiences, detailing accounts of sexual misconduct and abuse at the sSchool.
The school undertook the report in response to allegations made last year by a former student who accused a male teacher of raping her in 1998.
Overall, the report describes the widespread “grooming” of young women, behavior used by offenders to manipulate students in order to make them more accustomed to sexual assault late on.
The Emma Willard report comes just days after another prominent boarding school, Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut, released its own report on decades of sexual misconduct by faculty members.
In a letter to the school community on the Emma Willard web site, school leaders said issuing a public report was a sign of the school's commitment to transparency and change. School leaders also apologized for past actions at the school.
"We apologize profoundly to all who have been harmed," says the letter from Board Chair Elisabeth Allen LeFort and interim Head of School Susan R. Groesbeck. "We offer our apology with humility, knowing that words are insufficient and long overdue. As each victim and others who were impacted heal, our community heals."
The investigation disclosed the existence of a sexually active clique of teachers and students known as the “Gate House Gang,” named for where one of the educators live. According to the report, the clique lasted for years.
Other details in the report:
- A math teacher in the 1950s married a 16-year-old student and had two children. The couple later divorced.
- One teacher in the 1970s had what the report describes as a kind of harem.
- One alumna described how a male teacher would fondle her under the table as he taught.
The letter to the community also promised that the leadership at Emma Willard was committed to changing the school climate for the better.
"We are committed to the change in our culture, our policies, and our curriculum that comes with our awareness of this issue," the letter states. "We bring resolve and purpose to build a better, safer school. We have shared with the community the details of many of those changes and efforts to date.
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