|Curtis H. Bryant was accused of sexual abuse while teaching at the Landmark School.|
’90 sex abuse suit at Beverly school kept secret
Case at Landmark settled and sealed
This story is from BostonGlobe.com, the only place for complete digital access to the Globe.
For two decades, Curtis H. Bryant has been a respected figure in the town of Rowley: director of the Youth Baseball and Softball League, parent leader in a high school student enrichment program, treasurer of the Democratic Town Committee, and a Planning Board member.
Yet according to court documents unsealed last week, Bryant is also an accused child molester. He was charged in a 1990 lawsuit with repeated and forcible sexual abuse of a teenage boy for three years at the Landmark School in Beverly, where Bryant was a science teacher. The private boarding school quietly pushed Bryant out in 1991, then settled the suit for an undisclosed sum.
For 23 years, Bryant’s secret was safe, thanks to a state Appeals Court judge who in 1990 approved a motion by Bryant’s lawyers and the school to impound lawsuit documents. That erased any hint of the suit from public records.
Bryant declined comment for this article.
The decision to keep the allegations under wraps has now come back to haunt Landmark. Since the school first acknowledged last July that it had received sexual abuse allegations involving another former staff member, two other former students have told the school that Bryant also molested them.
Last week, the state Supreme Judicial Court denied a final attempt by lawyers for Bryant, the school, and the victim to keep records impounded, five months after the Globe filed a motion seeking their release. A Superior Court judge and single justices of the Appeals Court and the SJC all ruled that the school’s handling of the Bryant case was a matter of public concern.
Had it been Maureen Neville’s decision, Bryant’s alleged abuse would have become public in 1989. That year, Neville, accompanied by a teacher, alerted Robert J. Broudo, then head of the high school, about Bryant’s sexual abuse of her friend, the alleged victim, and her suspicion that Bryant was molesting other boys. Neville, a former Landmark student who was 19 at the time, said Broudo told her he could not do anything unless her friend came forward.
“It was my responsibility to notify him,’’ said Neville, 43, who left Landmark after her junior year. “It was his responsibility to do something about it, for making sure Curtis Bryant would have no access to children. And he did nothing. Bob Broudo just wanted the issue to go away.’’
In response to questions from the Globe, the school said Tuesday that Broudo, who has been headmaster of the entire school since 1990, did report Neville’s allegation to state child welfare officials in 1989, but that they were unable to do anything without the victim’s cooperation. The school said Broudo did not contact law enforcement officials.
In its statement, the school said Broudo later told Neville about the steps he had taken and urged her to persuade her friend to come forward. Neville denied Tuesday that Broudo had ever contacted her.
In Tuesday’s statement, the school acknowledged that it should have done more.
“In retrospect, we believe a better course . . . may have been to conduct outreach to our community then, as we are doing now,’’ according to the statement from the school’s spokesman, Peter J. Mancusi.
“We are equally committed to making sure we address the harms caused in Landmark’s past and learn from those events as we move forward,’’ the statement concluded.
The school’s spokesman said Broudo, who has been at Landmark since it opened in 1971, would not talk to a Globe reporter.
The course the school took is likely to have its greatest impact in Rowley, a tight-knit community of 6,000 north of Cape Ann where Bryant began working with children in the 1990s as a baseball coach and director of the Rowley Youth Baseball and Softball League. The group’s annual tax filings show that Bryant was a director of the organization until 2002.
Through a spokesman, Bryant, who is 57, declined to be interviewed, though in court filings, both in 1990 and in recent months, his lawyers argued that disclosure of the lawsuit would be devastating for his family and destroy his reputation.
In a 1990 motion to keep the lawsuit sealed, Bryant’s lawyer said his client “says he is innocent; that the plaintiff has a motive to lie and fabricate. The evidence will prove him right. When it does, who does Mr. Bryant see to restore his reputation?”
His wife, Helen Stergis Bryant, issued a statement Tuesday that said: “More than 20 years ago, my husband was a party to a lawsuit. The parties agreed that the best resolution was to settle the matter privately. No charges were brought. Since then, we have lived committed to our family and our community.’’Continued...