In its report on the sexual assaults, the school stated it did not give information about any of the crimes to child protective services, a violation of state law, because their counsel advised them not to. After passing the buck and blaming their lawyers for their negligence, St. George’s refuses to disclose the name of the attorney who steered them on the wrong course.
One of the school’s lawyers listed in court documents is William P. Robinson III who now sits on the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Is Robinson the one who advised St. George’s not to report the perpetrators, all who went on to work around children, either in churches or in education? If Robinson did advise St. George’s to violate the law and his actions put other kids in danger, is he a guy we want on the R.I. Supreme Court? Obviously, that’s a rhetorical question.
“In the 1980s, while engaged in the private practice of law, I represented St. George’s School in certain litigation in the federal court which has recently become the subject of interest in the media. I represented the client as an attorney must, zealously, ethically and to the best of my ability. I do not believe that further comment is necessary or appropriate.”
And what does this quote mean? “I represented the client as an attorney must, zealously, ethically, and to the best of my ability.” I’m assuming Robinson thinks its ethical to have no regard for statutory rape laws? Does Robinson still think a 15 year old can consent to sex with a 67 year old? And once again, I ask, if he does, should he be a judge on the R.I. Supreme Court? How is Anne Scott supposed to feel knowing that this guy ascended to the top of his field, that he holds a position of power and respect? Oh, that’s right, no one gives a shit how Scott feels. Which brings me back to St. George’s. This school cannot do much right. In spite of everything that’s happened, when every effort should be made at this time to be upfront and honest, the school chooses to be shady. Blame the lawyer, then don’t name the lawyer. Great strategy, St. George’s. I I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. All along, you’ve been withholding information to protect men in power.
I am so profoundly disturbed and angry and sad that these kids were abused and no one helped them, that no reports were made to police at the time, and that while the teachers were finally fired, they went on to teach at other schools.
Here is what I want to blog about right now, this paragraph in the report from the lawyers for the survivors:
We have not included numerous first hand reports from alumni concerning the “culture” that existed at SGS during the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s. That has been described to us in accounts we feel are credible as misogynist, racist, homophobic and bullying. By not including those reports, we are in no way diminishing their importance or the need of SGS to address those reports, many of which have been made to the School already.
What else do I remember about prejudice and boarding school? Boys sitting on a bench and rating girls who walked by from 1 – 10 on how hot they were. Dressing up as a bunny, along with all of the other new girls, including fishnets, ears, and a tail on “Casino night.” Being called “nappy face” by a boy because I had big lips and not knowing what that meant. Feeling exotic because I had dark hair. Learning the word “spearchucker” for the first time when one of the tiny minority of African-Americans was mocked.
Here are photos I posted a few times since, “Casino Night” where all the new girls were supposed to dress as playboy like bunnies.
Here are the boys, these are all photos from my 1984 yearbook:
Here is my friend and me, freshman referred to as “Todd’s Toys” in the yearbook, he was a senior prefect.
After St. George’s released its bullshit report, which I posted in full, an alumna who had been raped and contacted me after I’d blogged about Casino Night, commented to me: “The Report is very narrowly defined. There’s no sense of why so many assaults happened at St. George’s, what the school did to create cultural backdrop that allowed and encouraged rape.”
The stories coming out are so horrific that these photos I’m posting seem tame in comparison, but I hope that the school, and all schools, the legal team for the survivors, and the media address the sexism and misogyny the existed then and most likely exists today at these enclaves of “privilege.” Parents, teachers, curriculum, student government, clubs etc all contribute to a culture that allows rape to happen and go on happening. As I wrote in my last blog about the abuse, many boys were abused but I strongly believe a culture that values girls as well as boys is a safer, healthier, happier place for everyone.
Speaking of health, tomorrow is my birthday, I’ll be 47. The older I get, the happier I get. There are probably many reasons for this, but one factor is I’ve lived long enough to finally trust and believe in my own experiences. Many times in my life, I’ve been told by people who I looked up to or trusted or were important to me, that my experiences never happened, weren’t important, or didn’t matter. I think being repeatedly told that things I saw weren’t there is one reason I started blogging about sexism in children’s movies-– something that was glaringly obvious to me seemed invisible to others.
Thank you to all the survivors for having the courage to tell your own stories.
Since I’ve been blogging so much information about the sexual assaults and cover ups at St. George’s, I’m posting the full report the school sent out tonight.
I’m relieved that the school is releasing this information. I’m appalled that after so many complaints and reports, it took until just one year ago for St. George’s to write a letter to asking alumni if there were other victims. The lack of action by the school– a school-– is shocking, especially give how its lawyers intimidated Anne Scott when she brought her case. Why didn’t St. George’s initiate taking responsibility for its past? Especially after communicating with survivors and reading their posts on the petition, I’m heartbroken by their stories of how they were repeatedly ignored.
There is quite a lot in the report defending Hannum as an investigator, stating how well qualified he is and that even if he worked at another firm than St. George’s counsel, the school would still be paying the bill, thus just as impartial.
Will Hannum’s role was strictly as a collector of information. He has not, nor will he, provide any legal advice to the School. The functions and responsibilities are separate and distinct, without overlapping roles or information. Whether paying one firm/investigator or two, so long as the School is paying for professional investigative services, a claim can be made that the investigation is not wholly “independent.” The School instructed Mr. Hannum to uncover the truth of what happened – good, bad or ugly – without reservation. Therefore, what matters most is the independence of judgment and professionalism of the investigator. The School has not in any way directed, altered, or influenced Mr. Hannum’s gathering of the facts, and alumni can have the utmost confidence in the integrity of this report.
What about the survivors though? I was contacted by a survivor who did not want to talk to Hannum because she was concerned he might be gathering information to protect the school from a lawsuit. That tactic doesn’t seem so unlikely given the former head, Tony Zane’s comment to the Globe about St. George’s aggressive tactics against Anne Scott when she brought her suit against the school: “Don’t blame us for trying to protect the school from a 10 million dollar law suit.” Why would you make a lawyer the first person to speak with survivors of sexual assault, many of whom already felt not listened to and betrayed by the school? (Because he’s qualified, says St. George’s.) As far as the reimbursement for therapy and the process survivors had to go through to get approval from Hannum, the reports states:
There has been some concern that victims were asked to approach Will Hannum as a first step towards reimbursement. This was implemented, from the outset, as a temporary solution, something that should have been made more clear, and was put in place so that reimbursement could happen immediately. This choice was predicated on the belief that speaking to someone who already knew their stories would be less traumatic for victims. It was not intended to create an obstacle or impediment to assisting any victim, either implicitly or otherwise. Once the full support mechanisms are in place, victims will be able to go directly to the clinician administering the fund for reimbursement.
So all St. George’s wanted was to make the survivors as comfortable as possible since they were already so comfortable with Hannum. Call me cynical, but I’m not buying it.
Finally, the reason I started blogging about my time at St. George’s was because of the horrible sexism at the school when I went there.
I wrote about “Casino Night” an event where new girls had to dress up as playboy like bunnies and sell candy to older boys who gambled. I wasn’t sexually assaulted or raped at St. George’s, but I didn’t feel empowered in any way at that place. I felt “less than” because I was female. I don’t see the institutionalized gender inequality I experienced addressed in the report, and that concerns me because without equality, there won’t be real change. There is no more “Casino Night” but is the school a place where girls feel empowered? The St. Paul’s rape that I read about in August happened at a different school but I started blogging about it, because reading about the sexism there right now made me worry that sexism is as alive and well in that “privileged” world I came from. An alumna says this: “The Report is very narrowly defined. There’s no sense of why so many assaults happened at St. George’s, what the school did to create cultural backdrop that allowed and encouraged rape.” There are many male victims mentioned in the St. George’s report. I strongly believe that a culture that values girls and boys, that refuses gender boxes, where masculinity and femininity aren’t defined as polarized opposites, one strong, dominating, active while the other weak, submissive and passive– would be a safer and happier place for everyone. Maybe it’s time for St. George’s to have a woman head of school.
This memo serves as the public report of the School’s investigation into sexual misconduct towards students by members of the community at various points during the past fifty years. In commissioning this inquiry, the School has sought to better understand its past, so that we can help those students who were harmed, help heal the community as a whole, and help ensure the safety of the School’s current and future students.
Genesis of the Investigation:
The roots of the present inquiry reach back to the 2011-12 school year, when an alumna approached the current School administration with a detailed report of abuse she had suffered from Al Gibbs, a former trainer. She sought assistance with reimbursement for counseling expenses related to the trauma and its aftermath. Her request was ultimately brought to the Executive Committee of the School’s Board of Trustees by the administration where the decision was made to provide the support for the counseling expenses requested by the alumna.
In the intervening years, three factors converged to impel the School to launch a full investigation. The first was the evolving landscape of best practices, as schools and organizations began to understand the importance and positive impact that full inquiries could have, as seen in the investigations recently undertaken by peer institutions. The second factor was the suggestion made by alumni that an investigation was warranted, pointing out the inquiries launched by various other schools, and requesting that the School follow suit. The final factor was the recent discovery by the present administration of additional information that suggested both wider misconduct and greater awareness of misconduct by former School personnel than had been previously known. These factors converged in early 2015, and the administration requested a full inquiry.
In response, nearly one year ago, the Board moved, at its own initiative and expense, to commission a full investigation into these matters, seeking the truth about the School’s past, without reservation and without limitation. The investigation mandate was wide open – it was not focused on any one era, one incident, one perpetrator, or one allegation. We wanted to know all we could about the past and what had happened, so that we could help.
The Process of Investigation:
The Board selected the law firm of Schwartz Hannum PC to lead the inquiry, based on the firm’s prominence in education law and experience in representing more than 200 educational institutions and conducting investigations for numerous schools. The School chose Will Hannum, a named partner and the firm’s most experienced investigator, to lead the investigation. Mr. Hannum is regarded as an expert for his work in this area, having led dozens of inquiries for independent schools. He is the author of nationally recognized guidelines and articles on conducting investigations and responding to sexual abuse in schools, and has presented across the country on these issues. More importantly, as was expressed by many reporting victims, he brings compassion, professionalism, and experience to these difficult conversations.
December 23, 2015
Questions have been raised regarding the structure of the investigation, in which one member of the firm is serving as investigator, while another partner represents and advises the School. While the question is an understandable one, this sort of structure is not unusual and has been used in many investigations similar to ours. Schwartz Hannum and other law firms have managed dozens of investigations using similar protocols. In this case, Will Hannum’s role was strictly as a collector of information. He has not, nor will he, provide any legal advice to the School. The functions and responsibilities are separate and distinct, without overlapping roles or information. Whether paying one firm/investigator or two, so long as the School is paying for professional investigative services, a claim can be made that the investigation is not wholly “independent.” The School instructed Mr. Hannum to uncover the truth of what happened – good, bad or ugly – without reservation. Therefore, what matters most is the independence of judgment and professionalism of the investigator. The School has not in any way directed, altered, or influenced Mr. Hannum’s gathering of the facts, and alumni can have the utmost confidence in the integrity of this report.
The investigation went public on April 7, 2015, when the School sent the first of three (3) letters to the School community inviting anyone with information to come forward. These letters are available on the School’s website: Letter from Eric F. Peterson and Francis S. Branin, Jr. to School Community (April 7, 2015); Letter from E. Peterson and Leslie B. Heaney to St. George’s Alumni (August 21, 2015); Letter from E. Peterson and L. Heaney to St. George’s Alumni (November 2, 2015).
In response to the School’s letters, more than one hundred individuals came forward to share information. The nature of the information ranged from first hand, direct experiences of abuse, to second or third hand stories of others’ experiences, to the occasional rumor or a generalized belief/description, but all of the information was important. After speaking and meeting with the witnesses, and after reviewing thousands of documents provided by the School and by some witnesses, on Saturday, December 12, 2015, the School’s investigator made a report to the full Board, with the expectation that a report would be shared with the community before the end of the calendar year.
In addition, over the past several months, the School has been working with, and continues to work with the authorities, including the Rhode Island State Police, regarding former employees and former students who were reported to have sexually assaulted students at the School. At the direction of the authorities, given the possibility of criminal prosecutions, the School has not directly approached those perpetrators who are still alive. We have been instructed in writing by the Rhode Island State Police that we should not make public the names of any living perpetrators named by witnesses in the investigation, both out of deference to their investigations and out of respect for the privacy of the victims. Therefore, living perpetrators are not named in this report.
Scope of the Investigation
The investigator had multiple communications with most witnesses, including a combination of emails, phone calls and in-person meetings. Almost all witness communications were initiated by the witness, except in the case of some current or former School faculty members and administrators. A small number of witnesses have repeatedly postponed their respective interviews.
No alleged perpetrators were contacted as part of this investigation. Some are deceased; in other cases, the School has referred the matter to law enforcement to take appropriate action, and until law enforcement has closed any particular case, the School has been instructed not to contact the alleged perpetrator.
Both the School and various witnesses have shared thousands of pages of documents, including letters, emails, social media communications, faculty records, student records, yearbooks, documents in connection with Jane Doe v. St. George’s School, and other documents.
Given the professionalism and experience of the investigator and thoroughness of the investigation, the School has high confidence in the inquiry’s depth, breadth, and the factual accuracy of the information received. That said, the School also recognizes that there may be information that was not shared with investigators, or that may yet still emerge. In this way, while this report is an accurate reflection of what we have learned, the School acknowledges that other, additional information may exist. It is our hope that victims or witnesses in possession of such information will someday share it with the School, in the confidence that it will be well and carefully handled.
In addition, we use the word “victim” cautiously, recognizing that for some people the word “victim” can be offensive, or worse. No offense is intended. Others might prefer the word “survivor,” or some other term. However, in the interest of clarity, we use the term “perpetrator” to refer to an employee or student who perpetrated abuse on a student, and the term “victim” in reference to the student who suffered such abuse.
The Findings of This Report
With that background in mind, this report strives to offer a fair, succinct portrayal of the credible information obtained in the investigation.
A. Reports of Employee Perpetrators with Multiple Victims
Based on credible statements and documents provided by witnesses who were at the School in the 1970s and 1980s, the investigation has received twenty-six credible first-hand accounts (as well as other corroborating evidence) strongly suggesting that three former employees of the School engaged in sexual misconduct with regard to multiple students, and that there were twenty-three victims of sexual misconduct by these three employees.
1. Al Gibbs
Al Gibbs was an Athletic Trainer at St. George’s from 1973 to February 1980, when he was dismissed after a male student discovered Gibbs photographing a nude female student in the athletic training room. Gibbs passed away in 1996.
Based on seventeen first-hand accounts (by students from the Class of 1976 through the Class of 1982), Gibbs engaged in a range of inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct including kissing two female students publicly, telling students to remove their clothes without reason, taking nude photos of three students (and in some cases showing such photos to other students), fondling or grabbing the breasts of seven different students, touching the genitals of three students, and in one case rape.
Former Headmaster, Mr. Anthony Zane, said that he fired Gibbs in February 1980 after receiving a report of inappropriate activity by Gibbs, and after Mr. Zane then spent several days inquiring into Gibbs’s misconduct.
Specifically, based on several witnesses’ reports, in early 1980, a senior came by the training room, saw flashes under the door, became afraid that there was a fire, and barged in. He came upon a female student totally nude
in the whirlpool with her eyes covered as protection from a heat lamp, and Gibbs was photographing her. The senior reported this incident, and Gibbs was fired within a week thereafter.
Most victims, and some other witnesses, indicated that they believe that the School should have inquired into and taken action with respect to Gibbs in the years prior to terminating his employment. For example, several witnesses have observed that the School might reasonably have exercised more supervision of Gibbs, as he was allowed to work as the trainer for female students in his training room, which was accessible only through the boys’ locker room.
Regrettably, the School did not report misconduct by Gibbs to any state agency at the time of his termination in 1980.
On March 24, 1989, during the pendency of the Jane Doe litigation (described below), the School made a report about Gibbs to the Department Of Children And Their Families (“DCF,” the predecessor agency to the Department Of Children, Youth & Families, “DCYF”). On April 12, 1989, DCF responded in writing to the School’s report by stating that DCF was without jurisdiction to act because the students in question had all since turned eighteen, and Gibbs was not a parent or other person whose conduct must be reported under the reporting law. There was no further report to the authorities, as Gibbs passed away in 1996, until February 1, 2012 when, based on the report of the alumna who had come forward, the School reported Gibbs again to DCYF.
2. Employee Perpetrator #2
Employee Perpetrator #2 was employed at St. George’s until 1974, when he abruptly left the School after a report to the School of his inappropriate conduct with a male student.
The investigation learned that this former employee reportedly had inappropriate and potentially sexual contact with at least three male students, including sharing a bed and trying to touch students in bed.
The investigation determined that the School quickly terminated this employee after a student’s parent reported the misconduct to Mr. Zane. Mr. Zane confronted this employee, who admitted to the misconduct. Thereafter, Mr. Zane also tried to prevent this employee from getting another job that would involve contact with students.
At the time, the School did not report this employee’s misconduct to any authority. In the course of this investigation, the School has made a report about his misconduct to the Rhode Island State Police.
3. Employee Perpetrator #3
Employee Perpetrator #3 worked at St. George’s in the 1980’s. In May of 1988, Employee Perpetrator #3 was fired after an inquiry into accusations that he had an inappropriate relationship with a student.
Based on four first-hand accounts and nine second-hand accounts, Employee Perpetrator #3 reportedly engaged in sexual misconduct with at least three students. Witnesses reported that Employee Perpetrator #3 frequently entertained students in his apartment. He also reportedly hosted smaller groups of students on off-campus trips. The three first-hand reports of sexual assault by Employee Perpetrator #3 reportedly happened off campus. The misconduct by this former employee included providing alcohol to students, writing love letters to a student, watching pornography with students, touching students sexually, including fondling a student’s penis, engineering nude encounters with a student, and sleeping in the same bed with a student.
The School’s former psychologist, Dr. Peter Kosseff, a private practitioner who contracted to provide services to the School, recalled that, in the spring of 1988, a student came forward with what Dr. Kosseff determined to be a credible complaint about an incident involving the student being naked in front of Employee Perpetrator #3. Dr. Kosseff has declined to reveal the names of other relevant witnesses, citing patient confidentiality and doctor-patient privilege.
Two students, former Headmaster Rev. George Andrews, Dr. Kosseff and a former administrator have described the events surrounding Employee Perpetrator #3’s termination similarly: a student spoke to Dr. Kosseff about Employee Perpetrator #3; Dr. Kosseff communicated with School administrators about that; and Employee Perpetrator #3 was terminated immediately thereafter. All of this took place on the same day in May 1988.
Nonetheless, some witnesses have indicated their belief that the School might have inquired into and taken action with respect to Employee Perpetrator #3 in the years prior to terminating his employment.
Mr. Zane recalled that in 1983 or 1984, he warned Employee Perpetrator #3 “not to give students more backrubs,” after Mr. Zane received a report from an adult. Mr. Zane did not recall who made that report.
Rev. Andrews recalled having knowledge of a report, in 1984 or 1985, that Employee Perpetrator #3 rubbed a student’s back inappropriately.
A former student recalled that in either 1984 or 1985, he was called into Headmaster Andrews’ office, together with other School administrators and was asked to discuss the student’s relationship with Employee Perpetrator #3. The student said that he did not reveal anything damaging about Employee Perpetrator #3 during this meeting.The School did not report Employee Perpetrator #3’s misconduct to DCYF in 1988 on the advice of then legal counsel. In the course of this investigation, the School has made a report about his misconduct to the Rhode Island State Police.
B. Employee Perpetrators with One Victim, Based on First-Hand Reports
Based on statements and documents provided by witnesses who were at the School in the 1970s and 1980s, this investigation has received three credible first-hand accounts (as well as other corroborating evidence) strongly suggesting that three former employees of the School each engaged in sexual misconduct with a single student, and that there were three victims of such sexual misconduct.
4. Employee Perpetrator #4
Employee Perpetrator #4 worked at St. George’s from the late 1960s until 1971. It is unclear why he left the School. One student said that Employee Perpetrator #4 gave him gifts, worked with him during two consecutive summer jobs (and during those summers that they attended parties and did drugs together), and ultimately slept in the same room with him during the summer, where the student was raped.
The School first learned about alleged misconduct by Employee Perpetrator #4 during this investigation. In the course of this investigation, the School has made a report about the misconduct to the Rhode Island State Police.
5. Employee Perpetrator #5
Employee Perpetrator #5 was hired to work at St. George’s in 1971, and was terminated a few months later after providing alcohol to students.
Employee Perpetrator #5 reportedly sexually touched and attempted to perform oral sex on a student.
The School first learned about allegations regarding Employee Perpetrator #5 during this investigation. In the course of this investigation, the School has made a report about the misconduct to the Rhode Island State Police.
6. Employee Perpetrator #6
Employee Perpetrator #6 was employed at St. George’s during the 1970s and 1980s. Employee Perpetrator #6 and a student were reportedly involved in a long-term emotional and sexual relationship, during and after the student’s time at the School. As a result of this relationship, the student reportedly attempted suicide, suffering severe injuries.
The School first learned about allegations regarding Employee Perpetrator #6 during this investigation. In the course of this investigation, the School has made a report about the misconduct to the Rhode Island State Police.
C. Student Perpetrators, Based on First-Hand Reports
Based on statements and documents provided by witnesses who were at the School in the 1970s and 1980s, this investigation received three credible first-hand accounts (as well as other corroborating evidence) strongly suggesting that three former students of the School each engaged in sexual misconduct toward a single student, and that there were three victims of such sexual misconduct. Two of these incidents were previously known to the School in some degree, one was uncovered during this investigation.
1. Student Perpetrator #1
Student Perpetrator #1 was a student at St. George’s during the early 1970s. Student Perpetrator #1 reportedly raped a freshman. The student-victim reported that until now, he/she has never spoken to anyone about what happened.
The School has made a report to the Rhode Island State Police about Student Perpetrator #1.
2. Student Perpetrator #2
Student Perpetrator #2 was a student at St. George’s during the late 1970’s. The student-victim has asked not to be identified in this report. Student Perpetrator #2 reportedly assaulted a younger student in public. Another student corroborated this as a witness.
The School has made a report to the Rhode Island State Police about Student Perpetrator #2.
3. Student Perpetrator #3
Student Perpetrator #3 was a student at St. George’s during the early 1980’s. A student said that Student Perpetrator #3 touched him while this student was asleep in his dorm room. He later told the Dean of Students about this. Student Perpetrator #3 was expelled shortly thereafter.
The School made a report to the Rhode Island State Police about Student Perpetrator #3.
The “Jane Doe” Lawsuit
In 1988, a student from the Class of 1980 sued the School, alleging that she had been raped and sexually abused by Gibbs. At the time, the lawsuit did not include her name; it referred to her as “Jane Doe.”
Jane Doe and other victims who are aware of the School’s litigation strategy stated their view that the School’s conduct in the lawsuit in 1988-1989 was traumatizing, and in other cases may have made other victims reluctant to come forward. Accordingly, an understanding and acknowledgment of that perspective is likely important to the School community and the victims’ healing and recovery from the history of abuse by several of its former employees. Our acknowledgement of, and regret for, any additional harm to victims is genuine and deep.
Other Reports Not Detailed
The investigation received other reports of professional misconduct (including reports from other decades), ranging from teachers drinking while on duty, wrestling in the halls with students, and boundary issues. For example, a report was made by an alumnus from the 1970’s that a former faculty member entered the student’s room at night and rubbed him on his rear end through a blanket. The student reported that when he threatened the faculty member, the faculty member departed the room. Other reports are not detailed because the information was either not corroborated, incomplete, second or third hand, and/or was related to behavior outside the scope of the investigation into sexual misconduct and sexual assault as noted above.
The School’s Responses
Four of these six former employees were dismissed by the School, and one student was expelled, after the School became aware of misconduct. In those instances, the School promptly inquired into the alleged misconduct and responded. With respect to the other perpetrators, we understand that the victims did not report those assaults to the School during the victims’ time at the School. However, ultimately, we cannot be certain of whether the School possibly knew more before those perpetrators left the School. Regardless, it is evident that School failed on several occasions to fulfill its legal reporting requirements to the authorities.
There is no finding that the School simply ignored a complaint of sexual misconduct. One witness has stated that her prior complaint of misconduct was ignored, but the investigation has been unable to conclude definitively what happened when. Nevertheless, from the School’s perspective today – and as almost all victims and numerous other witnesses indicated – we believe the School could have done more to keep its students safe.
Responses to the Investigation
Over the course of this investigation, many witnesses offered personal accounts of the impact that sexual misconduct and abuse had on them. Witnesses shared a range of consequences stemming from the abuse they suffered, including that they acted out or became rebellious, no longer participated in sports, experienced a difficulty with intimacy and relationships, suffered depression, felt shame and embarrassment, were unable to form healthy, intimate adult relationships, and attempted suicide.
It is heartbreaking to hear these reports and to contemplate how St. George’s students have experienced abuse and suffering as a result of their time at the School. The School deeply regrets what happened to them, and we pledge to do all we can to support and help them in their efforts to heal.
Other Witness Comments on the Investigation:
Almost all witnesses welcomed the School’s open inquiry. Most strongly encouraged the School to continue down the path of transparency and reconciliation. Many expressed the hope that the School will continue to reach out to victims of abuse in order to offer them assistance. And many encouraged the School to report the findings of this investigation to the St. George’s community.
Likewise, many witnesses expressed the hope that the School will continue to review its policies and educate its employees and students about issues relating to sexual misconduct in order to promote student safety and foster a culture of openness and respect.
During the investigation, the School asked witnesses and victims what they would like to see the School do, and the School has consulted several experts on this important topic. The School is presently moving forward to help all victims as much as possible.
The School is committing to as much transparency in its communications as possible. We want to respect the instructions of the state authorities, so that they can do their jobs. We want to respect the privacy of victims: their stories are not the School’s to tell. But, we also want to share candid, important, and deeply troubling information about the School’s past. This report is an important part of that effort.
Most importantly, and above all, the School wishes to formally make a meaningful apology to those who were harmed at the School. On this point, let us be clear and unequivocal:
To all victims, we are truly, deeply sorry for the harm done to you by former employees or former students of the School. We are heartbroken for you and for the pain and suffering that you have endured. We pledge to do all we can to support you in your efforts to heal, if you want or need our support.
Of course, it is not enough to simply apologize in this report. It is not enough even to say it to you in person, as we have done in some instances and as we will continue to do for all who want to meet with us. We recognize and we also deeply regret that there is nothing that we can say that will heal your wounds completely, but we are committed to doing what we can to assist you.
Beyond our apology, the School is committed to taking concrete and decisive steps to support the victims, and to assist them in their continued recovery. To that end, the School is doing the following:
Immediate Counseling Support:
As an initial step, the School has reached out to those victims who responded to the November 2, 2015 letter seeking treatment, and we have advised them that they may begin to receive treatment at the School’s expense, immediately.
There has been some concern that victims were asked to approach Will Hannum as a first step towards reimbursement. This was implemented, from the outset, as a temporary solution, something that should have been made more clear, and was put in place so that reimbursement could happen immediately. This choice was predicated on the belief that speaking to someone who already knew their stories would be less traumatic for victims. It was not intended to create an obstacle or impediment to assisting any victim, either implicitly or otherwise. Once the full support mechanisms are in place, victims will be able to go directly to the clinician administering the fund for reimbursement.
Victims seeking to receive treatment have been advised that they may do so immediately, and that the School has approved in advance payment for their next ten therapy sessions. The School understands that ten therapy sessions will not be sufficient for many victims, and underscores that this is an advance approval – NOT a limit. The School wants victims to be able to get immediate assistance, without the obstacles of administrative processes. The School has extended this initial commitment so that victims can begin to seek care immediately. Ultimately, the independent administrator will be authorized to coordinate and reimburse care beyond the initial therapy sessions for victims who need additional counseling support.
Significantly, the School’s offer of initial support does not require a legal release of claims
and does not require any kind of confidentiality provision (or “gag” order) prohibiting the victims from speaking about their experiences at the School. The School is committed to allowing victims to speak freely about their suffering and their experiences, to help in their recovery, while also offering financial support.
Victims’ Support Fund:
A victims’ fund has been established by the School to provide funding for victims to seek therapy and other treatment, as well as to reimburse victims for past treatment. The victims’ fund will be administered by an independent clinician with experience in treating victims of sexual abuse. We have reached an agreement to partner with Day One Rhode Island, the leading social services agency in Rhode Island organized to deal with specifically with sexual assault. Day One will provide both crisis therapy services and provide a clinician administrator to coordinate speedy reimbursement of victims.
800-494-8100 For Free and Immediate Crisis Response, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 401-421-4100, Ext. 146 – For Rhode Island residents and therapy referrals
Victims’ Support Advisory Group:
The School is forming a victims’ support advisory group, whose members include alumni and other outside resources. The purpose of this group is to serve as a clearinghouse and sounding board for victims and their concerns, and to advise the School on issues of importance to the victims. We will be providing more information about this advisory group in the near future, and the community will be hearing directly from the advisory group in due course, as well. To date the following alumni and outside experts have agreed to serve as members of this group:
Anne Kuzminsky ’81: Alumna, and violence prevention educator;
The Rev. Cam Hardy ‘78, Alumna, Chaplain, Millbrook School;
Whit Sheppard: Journalist, victims advocate, who wrote a compelling account of his own experience with sexual abuse in boarding school for the Boston Globe, in July of 2013;
An additional male alumnus, TBD
One of the first tasks for the advisory group will be to help advise the School on organizing a gathering of victims. This will be a private event, but one designed in collaboration with the victims to aid in their recovery and reconciliation.
The School acknowledges that for victims, the question as to whether the dormitory named in honor of Tony and Eusie Zane should be renamed is of special importance. This is a decision for the Board of Trustees, and will be addressed as soon as possible.
Education and Awareness:
In addition, the School renews its commitment to the entire School community – in honor of all who have suffered – that the School will continue to conduct regular and in-depth education and training for all employees and students to minimize the risk of sexual misconduct at the School now and in the future.
In closing, the School underscores its regret, sorrow, and shame that students in our care were hurt. We commit ourselves to taking responsibility, to healing those wounds, and to making every effort to mend the fabric of the St. George’s community. We appreciate your support in those efforts.
Faulkner Fox, who graduated from St. George’s in 1981 and was a prefect at the school, has set up the SGS Alumni Therapy Fund to help survivors who were sexually assaulted at St. George’s and in need of therapy.
When I asked her why she wanted to create the fund, she told me:
I was so concerned when I heard that alumni were in distress, some suicidal, after reading THE BOSTON GLOBE article. Not everyone has a therapist or a strong support network of friends and family. It is unconscionable that St. George’s School has not set up immediate counseling and referral services. I wanted to help support the vital 24/7 therapy service put in place by Anne Scott’s lawyers.
Dozens of alumni from St. George’s School were sexually abused while they were students at the school. More victims have been coming forward since the BOSTON GLOBE ran a front page story, “A Prep School’s Dark Legacy,” on 12/15/15. Some are very distressed, even suicidal, and they need to speak to a therapist immediately. St. George’s School has not yet made such a service available. We, concerned St. George’s alumni and supporters, are raising money to pay for psychologist, Dr. Paul Zeizel, a well-known clinician and trauma expert who treated many of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, to counsel St. George’s alumni who are in crisis.
Dr. Zeizel is available seven days a week to provide crisis assistance and local referrals to people who were sexually assaulted at St. George’s. Consultations are free to alumni and completely confidential. Dr. Zeizel’s phone number is: 857 472 2704. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If we raise enough money, Dr. Zeizel will also process requests for reimbursement for therapy that relates to past sexual abuse at St. George’s School. He will maintain absolute confidentiality, yet his clients will be free to speak to anyone they choose about their abuse and who is paying for their therapy.
I’m so grateful for the bravery I see while reading through the comment section of the petition created by alumni of St George’s asking for a fair investigation into the sexual assaults at the school.
I’m reposting some comments here:
I’ve seen first hand efforts by the current SGS administration to silence, intimidate, threaten lawsuits and even arrest of those who’ve reported abuse or stand up for victims. Dara Brewster Little Compton, RI
I, too, although have called the school to preliminarily report, hesitate to tell my story to the school investigators Linda Zoccoli Boulder Creek, CA
These victims need to heal wounds, be heard and have their full story told. St. George’s must be held accountable. The school’s legal counsel must not have a conflict of interest with the investigative process. Anyone living today who had or has a role in obfuscating the truth must come clean. Those who were abused have carried the weight of silence, depression and fear for too long. Never let this happen again – at any school. Set up bullet-proof systems so that victims can speak without fear of retribution. Anne – you are a brave leader. Carrie Griffen Snyder South Dartmouth, MA
I witnessed this and did nothing Max Cottrell, Fairfield, CT
In support of friends who have bravely struggled for a long, long time Willard Sistare Simsbury, CT
Children as young as 13 were being abused by adults and other students. It was joked about by students, referenced in the yearbook and dismissed by faculty and administration. The lack of action by the school leadership shows they thought it was acceptable to sexually abuse children Molly Groome Arlington, MA
outraged! like priests, educators are supposed to protect our children. shameful when institutions and their administrators protect the abusers, or rather, themselves, instead of our children. jill tarlau san francisco, CA
I believe this is an important cause. St Georges should do as much as they possibly can to help ease the pain caused to students at their school. Why aren’t they? Christine Neville Middletown, RI
I’m signing because I am an alumnus (1986), and I think the school’s handling of this issue since the late 1970’s, at least, is reprehensible. I also believe that a full light should be shown on the entirety of the issue. If SG ever wants to make amends (doubtful), the administration also needs to examine the manner in which student on student sexual assault/abuse – politely referred to as “hazing” back then – also was handled Sean Delaney, Thomaston, CT
If you haven’t signed the petition yet, please consider adding your name. At this posting, there are only around 100 signatures. Survivors need your support. THANK YOU
When Anne Scott initially brought a suit against the school about her molestation by athletic trainer, Al Gibbs, lawyers representing St.George’s claimed she “has a tendency to lie.” They also said that if the 15 year old had sex with the 67 year old, it was consensual. Let me remind you, lawyers representing a school seemed to have no concept of statutory rape. St. George’s also sought to change the case from a “Jane Doe” to use Scott’s real name. Intimidated, Scott dropped her case. Years later, still suffering from the abuse at St. George’s, Scott demanded the school contact alumni about abuse that may have happened. Scott was certain there were other victims. She wanted the school to be accountable and to reach out to others who may need help. St. George’s started an investigation and sent out letters. According to the school, “tens of women” have responded that they are survivors of abuse. But one of the problems with the investigation is that more victims have said they are not comfortable talking about their experiences to Will Hannum, the lead investigator hired by St. George’s. Hannum is not only a lawyer but a partner of the counsel for St. George’s, not the ideal person to speak with about these experiences. I have been contacted by women who feel this way.
Here are more facts since the Globe article came out about how St. George’s continues to fail it’s alumni from the counsel for Anne Scott (’80), Joan (Bege) Reynolds (’79) and Katie Wales (’80): Eric MacLeish (SGS ’70)
Since the December 15, 2015 article in the Boston Globe we have received reports from eleven additional alumnae who were sexually molested and assaulted by former SGS athletic trainer Al Gibbs. We also have other calls to return so that figure will rise tomorrow
Virtually all of the alumnae are or have suffered psychological injury as a result of their abuse by Gibbs and some are currently in states of crisis. Two have reported suicidal ideation. We are referring alumnae to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (which has agreed to handle calls from outside Massachusetts). We are searching immediately for a clinician to provide crisis services for these individuals and to make referrals. We have asked SGS to retain such a clinician but SGS has not responded
Based on Mr. Zane’s notes of four Gibbs victims in the Scott case and the three clients who we represent, the number of Gibbs alumnae victims that we are aware of currently total eighteen
SGS has still refused to disclose the number of victims who have come forward to the School alleging sexual assault by Gibbs. This number is likely much higher than the eighteen alumnae victims that we are aware of
Headmaster Peterson stated in his letter of November 2, 2015 to alumni that the “majority” of the abuse reports center around three individuals and that most of the reports fall in the 1970’s and 1980’s. We have received reports of abuse from alumni over the past four days, including reports from two former Trustees, regarding five SGS former employees; one report was as recent as 2004
SGS has shown a pattern of conduct since 1979 of coercing alumnae who were abused by Gibbs into silence. A student who alleged she was abused in 1979 was told that she was mentally ill and was required to see the School’s consulting psychologist. More recent tactics under current school leadership include requiring a victim seeking mental health care because of Gibbs’ abuse to sign an agreement prohibiting the victim from speaking of about the abuse publicly and, further, that she not “disparage” the School
SGS employees violated the Rhode Island Mandatory Abuse reporting law on Gibbs sexual molestation thereby subjecting other children to risks of abuse as Gibbs was alive for fifteen years after he left SGS. We have also received credible reports that SGS violated the same law in 1988, at which time the alleged perpetrator left SGS and went on to teach at another prep school for 11 years
Many alumni who came forward to report abuse to the “independent” investigator which Headmaster Peterson referred to in his April 7th letter to alumni were not told by the investigator that he was a partner in a law firm that was actually representing SGS
The School’s victim assistance package continues to contain a confidentiality clause which prevents alumni from disclosing that SGS is paying for assistance. At the same time, the agreement contains no provision that requires SGS to keep a victim’s name and assistance package confidential
SGS alumni have started an online public petition requesting that the School take immediate measures to conduct an independent investigation and provide for an alumni mental health assistance program that is consistent with what other independent school programs have done in similar situations. The petition can be foundhere
Over the past four days, we have received reports that Headmaster Peterson has been aware of Gibbs’ abuse of SGS students for many years; it was only after he was approached by Anne Scott in February of 2015 that the School sent out its first alumni letter. Mr. MacLeish contacted Mr. Peterson urging him to send out an alumni letter on Gibbs in 2012
From Counsel for Anne Scott (’80), Joan (Bege) Reynolds (’79) and Katie Wales (’80): Eric MacLeish (SGS ’70) and Carmen Durso.
If you care about helping survivors of sexual assault and protecting all kids from having this happen to them, please sign this petition
UPDATE: Eric MacLeish contacted me with this info: we retained a clinician, Dr. Paul Zeizel, who is available 7 days a week for SGS victims. He can provide crisis counseling for SGS alums that is confidential. His mobile phone is 857 472 2704. His email is email@example.com
Anne Scott was molested by the school’s athletic trainer, Al Gibbs.There were 4 other girls who told school authorities they were also molested by Gibbs. Apparently, Gibbs was known not only for molesting the girls but for taking pictures them when they were naked or in their underwear and showing those photos to male students at the school.
When Scott filed suit against St. George’s, the school’s lawyers told the court that she was either lying or that the 15 year old having consensual sex with 67 year old, apparently oblivious to statutory rape laws. The Globe reports:
School attorneys also sought to change it from a “Jane Doe” case and reveal Scott’s real name. “Maybe people will come forward and say the plaintiff is a, with all due respect to those in the court, has a tendency to lie, and that would be relevant, also,” said defense attorney William P. Robinson III of the Providence firm Edwards & Angell. (In 2004, Robinson was appointed to the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Robinson did not return calls from the Globe.)
But Judge Jacob Hagopian of the US District Court in Rhode Island denied the school’s motion to dismiss and admonished its attorneys that the teenager could not consent to such “detestable” acts. “It violates the criminal laws of the United States,” he said.
In the end, it was Scott who dropped the case. School attorneys had investigated and deposed her parents and were preparing to depose neighbors. “I was 27 years old, I had struggled, and then they came down on my family like a ton of bricks,” she said. “I just wanted it all to go away.”
St. George’s would not agree to the dismissal unless Scott signed a gag order that prohibited her from speaking about the case. MacLeish advised against it.
“The school did everything they could to intimidate Anne,” said MacLeish, of the Cambridge law firm of Clark, Hunt, Ahern & Embry. “It worked.”
While St. George’s is currently running an investigation into the abuse, the Boston Globe reports that the lead investigator, Will Hannum is a law partner of the legal counsel for the school. Furthermore, comments reported by the Globe from Tony Zane, the head of school at the time, seem to indicate he could’ve worked much harder to prevent Gibbs from finding more victims. Katie Wales, another survivor of Gibb’s abuse tells the Globe:
She said she went to see Zane in 1979 about Gibbs. “He told me I was crazy, making it up to get attention, and that I had to see the school shrink,” Wales said.
Zane claims a different but shockingly apathetic response:
Zane says today that he believed Wales at the time, but thought that she came to him in confidence and “didn’t authorize me to go to Al Gibbs.” He added: “Gibbs declared his innocence until the end, so I was operating on hearsay.”
Though Zane eventually fired Gibbs, he didn’t report the assaults as required by law. When asked by the Globe about his lack of action, Zane replies: “Was that true in Rhode Island in 1980?”
Here’s another Zane quote to the Globe reporter, explaining the school’s aggressive response to Scott’s legal action. “Don’t blame us for trying to defend ourselves against a $10 million lawsuit.”
Wow. Does this guy care at all about the implications of his failure to protect students? Unless I’m missing something, he seems to feel no guilt or remorse about his mistakes, to even realize that the school’s lawyers calling Scott a liar and claiming she may have had consensual sex with a 67 year old were, in fact, mistakes.
A girls dorm at the school is named for Zane’s The Globe reports that the students who brought the suit want the name of the dorm changed and Zane’s portrait taken down from the dining hall.
I went to St. George’s as a freshman in 1983, the last year Zane was at the school. After reading about the St. Paul’s rape the night of ‘senior salute,‘ I blogged about traditions of sexism and female disempowerment at St. George’s. For us, there was Casino Night. All the female “newbies,” mostly freshman and sophomores dressed as bunnies, complete with ears and tails. Here are pictures from my 1984 yearbook:
This is how the boys dressed and acted for the same occasion.
They gambled, we sold them candy. Entitlement, anyone?
One thing I find particularly disturbing about Gibbs’s photos is that he showed them to the male students, all those kids knew this was going on and no one stopped it. The Globe reports:
But one firsthand report came from Katie Wales, class of 1980, who went to see Gibbs after a horseback riding injury. He began to molest her and took photos of her naked in the school’s whirlpool, she says, which he then circulated among the boys at school.
“The taunting by the boys was horrible”
When I went to the school, the typical make up of the student government was one female to four males. Here’s a yearbook pic of the prefects.
Here’s my best friend and me, captioned “Todd’s toys,” he was a senior prefect.
His bequeath in the yearbook? A twenty year sentence. That’s a rape joke.
In my last blog about all this, I wrote I remember that prefect as being a pretty nice guy. I was never raped or sexually assaulted by him or anyone at the school. I was lucky. The school culture under Zane was mostly sexist and not empowering for girls in any way that I can recall. Recently, when telling someone about Casino Night, she asked me if I could have chosen not to wear the bunny suit. I never considered not saying yes.
Here’s my advice to St. George’s:
Take down the portrait of Zane. His apathy was criminal and today, his quotes in the Globe show he hasn’t learned much after all these years. Change the name of the dorm, consider naming it after a woman, maybe Miss Minton? She taught me how to write a killer 5 paragraph essay. Hire a new investigator, one without a conflict of interest, because it seems like you’re only interested in protecting yourself financially. Most importantly, do everything you can to prevent sexual assault and rape from happening again. Commit to ensuring gender equality at the school, meaning: include girls in student government and all positions of leadership and power at the school; make sure women authors and scientists and engineers, philosophers and historians etc are included in the curriculum, appoint women to positions of power and leadership in the faculty as heads of department; hang portraits of female leaders throughout the school; abolish sexist traditions; create a climate where if sexual assault ever occurs, students will feel confident they will be listened to. Educate students about gender equality. Be a leader in this area, stop dragging your feet.
One final thing– when you hire a new investigator, have him contact the expelled kids. I was kicked out in 1985 (for smoking a cigarette in the dorm freshman year and drinking sophomore year.) I never heard got the letter you sent to the alumni about these assaults. While I was lucky, my peers may not have been.
On 10.20.15, students and alumni of the Mills College Book Art program got word that within 30 days the program might be completely cut. The program has existed for over 35 years, benefiting hundreds of students in the fields of book arts, bookbinding, and printmaking, and letterpress. My mother, Jill Tarlau, is a bookbinder and a graduate of the Book Art program at Mills. She wrote the blog below in response to the threat to end the program. Known for her work with needlepoint, the photos are of books she’s bound. At the end of the post, there’s a link to a petition to save the program. As of this posting, over 2,500 have signed. Please consider adding your name.
In 1983 my teenager daughters advised me to get a life.
It was the first year of the Book Art Masters program at Mills College, where I had been as an undergraduate from 1961-1965. As an English major I had been, of course, into books.
At that time my focus was on content, but I already cared about design, preferring to read Moby Dick in an attractive, hard cover edition for a little more money rather than struggle through yellow paper, gray type, and a spine that disassembled after the first 100 pages. Almost twenty years later, it was time to discover what contributed to book design.
Mills had unique advantages, already gifted the Florence Walter bindery, already famous examples of beautiful books in the Bender room, already its own type fonts and press. Also the Bay Area had for decades been a center for some of the greatest American fine presses, (The Allen, Tuscany Alley and Arion) several still functioning. Commercial publishers such as North Point employed experts willing to discuss with our class cover design, layout. What a lucky spot for me.
My degree took three years to complete. That final printing project is a story written my youngest daughter, illustrated by my oldest, with notes on the author set in type letter by letter on the back cover by my middle child.
Out of the many disciplines learned, I chose to pursue bookbinding, moving to Paris to concentrate on my career. I am proud to say that my embroidered bindings are in the collections of many French libraries, including the Bibliotheque Nationale, libraries of several other countries, Morocco, Luxembourg, Belgium, universities in the United States, Princeton, Harvard, and private collections.
The seriousness of the Book Art program at Mills, and the difficulties I had in fulfilling its requirements, got me to take my own possibilities more seriously. All I wanted was to be the best.
Mills College can’t afford a medical school, or a law school. It can and does have the very best book arts program in the country. Don’t give up that honor!
My fiftieth reunion was in September. I was so proud of my college, but today, with this devastating news, I am so ashamed.
Today 19 yr old Owen Labrie was found not guilty of raping a 15 year old girl. At the trial, she spent more time on the stand than he did, said he bit her, scraped the inside of her vagina, and that she said no to him several times. The New York Times reports:
“Crying on the stand here, she described the sex acts she said he performed, saying he spit on her, and called her a tease. ‘At one point, I was in so much pain that I jerked backwards.’
Labrie said they never had sex. The jury of 9 men and 3 women convicted him for a lesser charge of aggravated sexual assault.
Labrie and his accuser both went to boarding school at St. Paul’s in Concord, N.H. where he was a soccer captain and straight A student. The night in question was part of “senior salute,” a school tradition “when older students ask younger ones to join them for a walk, a kiss, or more.” Labrie had ” a special key that prosecutors have said had been used and passed around by older boys seeking privacy.” The New York Times reports:
Still, she said she worried about making a bad impression. She was younger. He was older and popular. The senior salute was a St. Paul’s tradition.
“I didn’t want to come off as an inexperienced little girl,” she said. “I didn’t want him to laugh at me. I didn’t want to offend him.”
Afterward, she said, she felt physical pain and utter confusion, and blamed herself for the events; it took several days for her to tell anyone, in full, what happened.
“I feel like I had objected as much as I felt I could at the time. And other than that I felt so powerless,” she said, adding, “I was telling myself, ‘O.K., that was the right thing to do, you were being respectful.’
Though I blog about rape fairly often on Reel Girl, much more often then I’d like, I’ve been following the St. Paul’s story in particular. I also went to prep school at St George’s in Newport, Rhode Island from 1983 – 1985. One of the first big occasions I remember as a freshman was a tradition called Casino Night where all the new girls dressed up as bunnies. We pretended to sell candy and cigarettes. Here’s a picture of a classmate from my 1984 yearbook.
Here’s how the senior boys dressed for the same night. Notice anything different about their outfits or poses?
The boy on the left was also the senior prefect which is prep school speak for school president. I don’t think there had ever been a female student in this role when I went to the school. When I arrived there, there were 5 senior prefects: 4 males to 1 female, a typical ratio (and another example of the Smurfette Principle or Minority Feisty.)
The guy on the upper left is the one referred to in this picture below of my best friend and me captioned “Todd’s toys.”
His bequeath in the yearbook is “a 20 year sentence” because that’s what you get for rape.
I wasn’t raped at St. George’s. The bequeath is just a joke, a rape joke. The prefects pictured I remember as being mostly nice guys operating within a sexist culture that glorified treating girls like conquests. I’m posting these pictures, captions, jokes, and quotes from my yearbook to show the school’s systemic sexism in 1983. Most importantly, I don’t recall the rampant gender inequality on campus ever addressed by any teacher, parent, adviser, therapist, or any adult. Being a “bad girl,” I was expelled in 1985 (for drinking and smoking.) I hoped things had gotten better since my time, but the St. Paul’s story convinces me that rape culture remains alive and well at America’s prep schools.
A St. George’s classmate, Clymer Bardsley had a similar experience of total lack of guidance or help from any adults around gender roles and expectations. Today, also enraged after reading the news story, Clymer wrote this email to Michael Hirschfeld, the rector of St Paul’s:
I went to St. George’s School in the 80s and am a heterosexual, success-oriented, competitive guy. I remember being self-conscious about my not getting any action while some of my male friends got tons. I felt less-than, like a loser when it came to girls and sex. That feeling went with me to Middlebury College and remained into adulthood.
Nowhere in my development in the competitive worlds of New York, Newport, or Middlebury did any adult ever reinforce in me that it is alright to go at your own pace, that sex isn’t competition. The cultural norm was that sex was another place to be competitive, where you could be classified as a winner or a loser.
As rector of a now humiliated prep school, I hope you will make it your top priority to make sure that all of your kids and their families know that competition belongs on a playing field and perhaps in the classroom but nowhere near sex and relationships.
It appalls me every time I see a picture of that boy. I think, “How dare he!” And I don’t even know if he did anything wrong. What I do know is that the culture he went to school in enabled him to get into a very dicey place…
Your’s is a tough job and I don’t envy you. Protect our kids, though, the predators and their prey. They need those of us in charge to provide safety for them.
Here’s hoping you have a successful 2015-16 year!
I hope more students and alumni speak out, that these elite schools with access to so much money and power take major steps to radically change their courses, becoming the leaders they should be in stopping sexism, sexual assault, and rape on campus.
Proceed immediately to the theater and go see “Inside Out” even if you have no children. Pixar’s latest may be my favorite animated movie EVER. Powerful female protagonist CHECK. Complex female characters in supporting roles CHECK meaning “Inside Out” does NOT feature Minority Feisty!!!! Spectacular animation and compelling story telling CHECK and CHECK.
I am not alone in loving “Inside Out.” I don’t think I’ve read a negative review. My daughters and I had fascinating conversations after the movie: My six year old said she was Joy and my eight year old picked Disgust to describe herself. They talked about which emotions their friends are and different members of their family. But then they also had a talk about how they are– and all people are– all of the emotions. Other emotions personified in the movie are Sadness, Anger, and Fear. My kids talked about what emotions they didn’t see in the story– Embarrassment and Meditation which I interpreted as Serenity or Calm. We talked about which emotions branch off of others, and that all emotions need to be valued and felt which happens to be the point of the movie. That conversation began in the backseat of the car going home and is still going on today.
Riley, the star and the setting for the movie (most of it takes place in her head) is an 11 year ice hockey star from Minnesota who moves to San Francisco. I appreciated the depiction of the city, where I happen to live, as foggy-gloomy and infested with broccoli covered pizza. While I have grown to love my home, I understood Riley’s experience of it as gray and depressing. I totally had those moments as a kid and still do. Riley longs for seasons that included snow. Depicting Riley as an ice hockey fan not only highlighted her aggression, joy, and skill but cleverly showed how alienated she feels in California. There is another (another!) cool female character in the movie, Riley’s BFF from home.
The two emotions with the biggest parts in the film– Joy and Sadness– are also female. Disgust is female too. Riley’s mom is also an ice hockey fan and player, though they do make the move for the busy dad’s job.
Amy Poehler who plays Joy said she was proud to be in this movie and that it makes the world a better place. I agree.