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Decades of sex abuse at elite all-girls boarding school

An elite all-girls boarding school in New York has released a report detailing nearly seven decades of sexual abuse and misconduct, with both male and female educators accused of engaging in improper relationships with students.

The 127-page report released Tuesday spans misconduct at the Emma Willard School in Troy from the late 1950s through the 2015-16 academic year, including instances of rape, sexual assault and harassment, as well as the "grooming" of young women for affairs.

In all, more than 75 people from the Emma Willard community participated in what the authors of the report called a candid and "sobering account of alumnae experiences."

In one instance, a math and science teacher at the school began a friendship with a student through correspondence and later married her in 1959 when she was 16 years old before divorcing in 1969.

In another, an alumna said a male faculty member was "very fast and loose with his hands," while another detailed her sexual relationship with her male history teacher beginning when she was 17 years old. The victim said she "was not the first or last" and believed the teacher had been involved with other female students.

Another alumna from the school's 1975 class said a teacher in the theater department "raped [her] in his home on campus in either 1974 or 1975," a one-time occurrence that she declined to discuss in further detail, according to the report.

One former administrator at the school shared the mindset of the "cult of the male faculty" at Emma Willard, saying female students enjoyed vying for their attention.

"The place was just wide open in the 70s," the administrator said. "People were more focused on the drugs, which were a major problem. A lot of good people who would have operated in a different way, and a lot of good people who should have known better fell under the sway of, 'well, it is the way of the 70s.'"

Emma Willard counts actress Jane Fonda and US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand among its notable alumnae. The report comes just days after the results of a similar investigation was released by officials at Choate Rosemary Hall, a boarding school in Connecticut.

The report is a response, in part, to allegations made last year by former student Kat Sullivan, who said she had been raped by a male teacher, Scott Sargent, in 1998. Sargent, according to the Boston Globe, was fired after the incident but later found a job at a private school in Connecticut and did not face charges in the alleged rape.

"As a community, we collectively offer our compassion and support," school officials said in a letter accompanying the report. "We apologize profoundly to all who have been harmed.  We offer our apology with humility, knowing that words are insufficient and long overdue."

Topics:  editors picks

News Corp Australia

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