At least 40 former students of an elite prep school claim sexual assault by former staff members

At least 40 former students of St. George’s School, an elite prep school in Rhode Island, have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse and rape by seven former staff members and four students, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

The alleged sexual abuse took place from 1974 through 2004, according to the report. Four of the seven accused former teachers are currently alive and two seem to still be working in a setting with children, according to The Times.

The Rhode Island State Police are currently conducting a separate investigation, according to The Times. There is no statute of limitations for rape in Rhode Island.

Attorneys for the victims of the alleged sexual abuse held a press conference in Boston on Tuesday, where they said 40 credible victims have come forward. They said it appeared that St. George’s fired staff members accused of sexual abuse but did not warn other schools who then hired those staff members.

Eric MacLeish, one of the attorneys who also attended St. George’s in the 1960s, identified two of the alleged perpetrators in the press conference — Franklin Coleman and Howard White.

Coleman was a choir director who was accused of molesting multiple boys and terminated by the school in 1988, though not reported to police or child-protection authorities, according to MacLeish. He had a 20-year career in teaching after his time at St. George’s, MacLeish said.

Howard White was the assistant chaplain for the school in the 1970s. He was terminated for sexually molesting boys, according to MacLeish.

“We want to know whether this was like the Catholic Church,” MacLeish said, according to WBUR. “Whether the bad apples got farmed out to other places where they’d have a feast on unsuspecting victims.”

Anne Scott, a 1980 graduate of St. George’s, claimed she was raped repeatedly over a two-year period by the school’s former athletic trainer, Al Gibbs, who is now deceased.

She said that her alleged sexual abuse had a deeply negative effect on her well being.

“I stopped talking or communicating with people, interacting with people, for long periods of time after that,” she said during the press conference. “My parents did get me into therapy when I was in college, and through that, I was hospitalized four times — one time for a prolonged period during my early 20s.”

Scott also claimed in the press conference that St. George’s internal investigation into the alleged abuse was a cleaned up version of what occurred.

“Yes, the school did issue a report on December 23,” she said. “It is a sanitised version of the facts.”

St. George’s school issued an 11-page report on December 23. The report said they have received 26 credible accounts “strongly suggesting” that three former employees of the school engaged in sexual abuse of 23 students.

The school also apologised in the report. “To all victims, we are truly, deeply sorry for the harm done to you by former employees or former students of the School,” the report said. “We are heartbroken for you and for the pain and suffering that you have endured.”

On Thursday, St. George’s announced that would commission a new, independent investigation into the alleged abuse, The Times reported.

An independent third party to lead the investigation has not yet been chosen, but will be decided by a group of victims.

St. George’s School did not immediately respond to a request for further comment from Business Insider.

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