A recent history of New England prep school scandals

The main school building at Deerfield Academy in Deerfield.
The main school building at Deerfield Academy in Deerfield. –Matthew Cavanaugh/The Boston Globe

New England’s elite preparatory schools are famous for their prestige and tradition. But not every tradition is good.

The rape trial of former St. Paul’s School student Owen Labrie has raised questions about whether the New Hampshire prep school tolerated a culture of sexual conquest. But his school is not the only prestigious private institution to have its reputation tainted by allegations of sexual impropriety or abuse.

Here are some recent scandals at New England prep schools and their outcomes. In several cases, victims contend that schools cared more about protecting their reputations than protecting their students.

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DEERFIELD ACADEMY

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Location: Deerfield, Mass.

Prominent alumni: Members of the Rockefeller family; David Koch, businessman and activist

Annual tuition: Up to $57,000

In 2013, Deerfield Academy posted a letter saying former teacher Peter Hindle, a Deerfield faculty member for 44 years, had committed an “outrageous violation’’ and “admitted sexual contact with a student.’’ Eventually two others would come forward saying they were abused by Hindle.

But Hindle will not be charged. A prosecutor told Boston.com this week that while there was “substantial credible evidence of improper sexual conduct by Peter Hindle,’’ he could not be charged because the statute of limitations had run out.

Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian told Boston.com that he settled a case brought by one accuser for $350,000, a figure that a Deerfield spokesman declined to confirm Tuesday.

Asked Tuesday if he had admitted to an improper relationshionship, Hindle told Boston.com: “Partially, I’d say yes.’’ He declined further comment.

Deerfield said in 2013 that while investigating Hindle that it also received two “direct, independently corroborating accounts’’ of sexual conduct by another teacher, Bryce Lambert, involving two students.

Lambert has since died. A lawsuit filed last month said Hindle was one of two supervisors who “negligently transferred’’ the boy to Lambert while they were on interscholastic sports trip to Connecticut.

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Deerfield spokesman David Thiel said the school had learned from the Hindle case.

“The academy today values student safety above all and adopted a comprehensive review of policies and procedures based on this incident,’’ Thiel said. “I can also tell you that our thoughts have been with the survivors, and we continue to think about the survivors, and keeping our students safe.’’

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FESSENDEN SCHOOL

Location: West Newton, Mass.

Prominent alumni: Howard Hughes, famous business tycoon; Sen. Edward M. Kennedy; Secretary of State John Kerry

Annual tuition: Up to $59,050 for domestic boarding students

A lawyer filed a lawsuit in December 2014 on behalf of several former students of Newton’s prestigious Fessenden School who said they were sexually abused by four teachers there in the 1960s and 1970s.

Fessenden told graduates in a 2011 letter that it had received two abuse claims, one involving a former assistant headmaster, Arthur Clarridge, who was arrested in November 1977 for his involvement in a child sex-ring operating out of the city of Revere.

Clarridge admitted paying for sex with boys there and explained that he typically visited the house on Tuesday nights because “that was the only night I didn’t have dormitory duty from supper to bedtime.’’ He denied any impropriety with students.

The other abuse claim involved a friend of Clarridge’s. In 2010, the school reached a settlement with one student in “the low six figures,’’ said Michael Garabedian, who represented the students.

After receiving the allegations, school officials searched their records and found two other complaints, one of which involved Clarridge, that alleged abuse in the 1960s and ‘70s.

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In December, the school told the Globe that it had reached out to graduates to apologize for “intolerable behavior that occurred in the past’’ and to offer the victims counseling.

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BROOKS SCHOOL

Location: North Andover, Mass.

Notable alumni: Steve Forbes, former presidential candidate; James Spader, actor

Annual tuition: Up to $55,560

In January 2013, school officials said former headmaster Lawrence W. Becker had an “objectionable, manipulative’’ relationship with a student and had hired an escort while traveling on school business. In a statement, Becker said the revelations caused “me and my wife great pain, sadness and embarrassment.’’

The school said Steve Forbes, the former presidential candidate who served as president of the Brooks School’s board of trustees from 1987 to 1997, knew about the relationship with a student and tried to address the matter but did not report it to other school officials. Forbes said in a statement that “every step was undertaken with the advice and direction of the school’s outside counsel,’’ and that the matter did not involve sexual abuse.

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PARK SCHOOL

Location: Brookline, Mass.

Annual tuition: Ranges from $25,200 for Pre-K to $40,800 for Grade 9

Notable alumni: Jonathan Kraft, president of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots

In December 2013, Carlo Morales, a Park School teacher’s assistant, was charged with aggravated statutory rape of a student at a public school where he had previously worked. He is scheduled to receive a trial date in October.

Also in December 2013, teacher Gregory Grote pleaded not guilty to indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14 and assault and battery. The charges against him were later dropped.

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PHILLIPS ACADEMY

Location: Andover, Mass.

Notable alumni: George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, presidents of the United States; Humphrey Bogart, actor

Annual tuition: Up to $50,300

Dr. Richard Keller, who was medical director at Phillips Academy for 19 years until 2011, was sentenced to 6½ years on child pornography charges last year after authorities said they found more than 500 photographs and at least 60 DVDs during a search of his home.

Phillips said Keller had previously been reprimanded for viewing adult porn on a school computer in 1999 and for showing students an “inappropriate cartoon.’’

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MILTON ACADEMY

Location: Milton, Mass.

Notable alumni: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick; U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy

Annual tuition: $53,330

In 2005, Milton Academy expelled five male students after they received oral sex from a 15-year-old sophomore girl in a school locker room. Two of the male students were charged with statutory rape and served no jail time after accepting plea deals.

The events inspired two Milton alumnae to write an exposé of the sex subculture at Milton, called “Restless Virgins: Love, Sex, and Survival at a New England Prep School.’’

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GROTON SCHOOL

Location: Groton, Mass.

Notable alumni: President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Annual tuition: Up to $55,700

The school was indicted in June 2004 on a charge of failing to report to the state that a 16-year-old student said he had been sexually assaulted by other students in 1999. The school pleaded guilty and was fined $1,250. The Associated Press reported that no individuals were charged. A 2006 Boston magazine article, “The Boy Who Cried Rape,’’ detailed a student’s decision to come forward and the backlash he suffered.

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BERKSHIRE SCHOOL

Location: Sheffield, Mass.

Notable alumni: New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza

Annual tuition: Up to $52,150

In 2000, a school employee accused headmaster Paul Christopher of sexually harassing her. After she went public, more than 20 women accused Christopher, who had written a book on ethics, of harassing them or subjecting them to abuse including come-ons, dirty jokes, crude language, inappropriate touching, French kissing, and “blatant efforts to seduce them,’’ the Boston Globe Magazine reported. Christopher resigned, citing health concerns. The school subsequently reached a settlement, the terms of which were not disclosed.

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