The Bryants were married in 1983 and were houseparents in a dorm at Landmark, a boarding and day school for children with language-based disabilities. It has 460 students in grades 2 through 12, about a third of them boarding students. Bryant was a science teacher and hockey coach.
Last July, two former students, David G. Breed and Brant Davis, notified Landmark that they had been molested in 1979 and 1984, respectively, by Howard Kasper, who was then a dean at Landmark. Breed had first told Broudo about his alleged molestation in the 1990s.
Dissatisfied at the school’s response, Breed and Davis contacted a Globe reporter. On July 31, the day before a Globe story was to appear, the school disclosed their allegations and asked other graduates to notify the school if they had been abused.
Since then, five more former students have come forward with allegations of abuse, including the two who lodged abuse complaints against Bryant. The fresh allegations about Bryant have been referred to the Essex district attorney’s office, the school announced earlier this year.
Kasper had left Landmark in 2000 to become a guidance counselor in the Rockport public schools. In August, Rockport Superintendent Robert E. Liebow placed Kasper on indefinite leave. Kasper has since accepted a settlement that will pay him as a half-time consultant until he resigns in January, 2015.
In the Bryant lawsuit, Kasper, who was then dean of students, and four other Landmark officials are named as codefendants, along with the school itself. The lawsuit asserts that they “had actual or implied knowledge’’ of Bryant’s abuse and did nothing to stop it.
Neville told the Globe last August about the lawsuit filed by her friend in 1990. But a search of the Superior Court database found no evidence that any such lawsuit had ever been brought. But an impounded record for the case was ultimately located in the state Appeals Court records, where it had mistakenly been left in a public file.
The court’s rules stipulate that impoundment orders should always be the “exception to the rule that court filings be available to the public.’’ The courts allow third parties to challenge the impoundment, but doing that is, in practice, difficult because many courthouses seal the identity of the parties and the case’s docket number.
Because of the impoundment questions raised by the Globe, the court system’s trial court chief justices have formed a committee to review the court’s rules and to determine whether changes are needed, according to a statement by Joan Kenney, a spokeswoman for the state’s high court.
When the Globe challenged the impoundment in September, lawyers for the school, Bryant and the victim objected.
In October, Essex Superior Court Judge Howard J. Whitehead ruled that the 1990 impoundment order be terminated. Noting the allegations against Kasper, Whitehead declared in his ruling that “an even greater public interest exists in finding out how the Landmark School handled the allegations raised by the plaintiff’’ in the 1990 case.
Whitehead ordered that references to the alleged victim be redacted from the documents. As a matter of policy, the Globe does not identify victims or alleged victims of sexual assault or abuse without their assent.
Whitehead’s ruling was upheld, first by Appeals Court Associate Justice Sydney Hanlon, and then last month by SJC Associate Justice Robert J. Cordy.
Cordy, during a Jan. 16 hearing, said: “One might ask: If the lawsuit had been made public when it was filed and if it had not been impounded, whether those two [additional victims] would have come forward then.’’
All three judges rejected motions by the opposing lawyers to prevent the Globe from publishing anything from the impounded files that had mistakenly been left in a public file in the state Appeals Court.
Jeffrey J. Pyle, who represented the Globe, said the decisions by the three judges make it clear the courts are now more reluctant to keep cases of alleged abuse secret. But Pyle expressed concern about the prior-restraint motions.
“The effort to silence the Globe was particularly troublesome,” he said. “Courts have rejected efforts to muzzle the press for centuries, even in cases involving alleged harm to national security.’’
For Neville, the event that gnaws at her to this day was the decision to keep the charges against Bryant secret. Bryant, she said, “went on his merry way, and that was a coverup. Landmark put other kids in other communities at risk.’’Continued...