The alarmingly high rate of sexual abuse of students at private schools is once again at the forefront of public consciousness following the release of a disturbing investigative report by the Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team.
Private schools- even some of the nation’s elite institutions – can create an environment that gives faculty and staff members free reign to prey on young students. These staffers build trust with the students by offering to mentor them outside of the classroom. Once that trust is established, the door for abuse is opened.
Many schools opt to protect the abuser instead of the abused. The leadership is reluctant to be transparent about the issue because they want to protect the school’s seemingly stellar reputation and maintain enrollment. The institutional approach of covering up – rather than stopping – sexual abuse is reminiscent of the Catholic Church and Penn State scandals.
In the Globe’s report, the team of journalists spoke to numerous victims of sexual abuse at New England private schools and researched nearly 100 lawsuits or other claims filed against schools on behalf of alleged victims. The team’s reporting yielded some staggering numbers.
Since 1991, at least 67 private schools in New England have faced accusations of sexual abuse or harassment from more than 200 students. The accused include teachers, administrative staff members and even an admissions officer. Perhaps the most jarring revelation is that 11 of the accused private school employees went on to find employment at other private schools.
These statistics represent only a sliver of the sexual abuse that occurs at private schools in New England and beyond. As the Globe points out, the lack of a licensing requirement for private school employees or a central database of abuse allegations means countless sexual abuse incidents continue to occur at these schools.
Farmer Jaffe attorney Adam Horowitz has substantial experience representing victims of sexual abuse in private schools. Among other cases, Horowitz is presently representing a male student – and the student’s mother – in a lawsuit against the private Tampa Day School and former principal James Larkin, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for two counts of felony sexual battery of a minor. If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, please email attorney Adam Horowitz at [email protected] or call our law firm at (954) 524-2820.