Staff at elite boarding school Choate sexually abused students for decades: Officials - Metro US

Staff at elite boarding school Choate sexually abused students for decades: Officials

Choate Rosemary Hall staff members have been accused of sexually abusing students

A new report alleges that 12 faculty and staff members of Choate Rosemary Hall, the elite Connecticut boarding school that counts Ivanka Trump and President John F. Kennedy among its notable alumni, sexually abused or assaulted students for more than five decades.

The abuses at the Wallingford-based institution took place between 1963 and 2010, with the largest number of reported incidents stemming from the 1980s. Accusations ranged from groping and kissing to intercourse, according a letter from Michael J. Carr, head of the school’s board, and Headmaster Alex Curtis

The 50-page graphic report, made by a Choate-hired investigator, recounts the alleged sexual misconduct of 24 victims — and nearly all of the accusations were never reported to authorities by school officials. Teachers were either allowed to resign or were quietly fired afterward.

“The detailed content of this report is devastating to read,” Carr and Curtis said in the letter. “One can only have the greatest sympathy and deepest concern for the survivors. The conduct of these adults violated the foundation of our community: the sacred trust between students and the adults charged with their care.”

One alarming instance of the school not reporting an allegation properly stemmed from an assault on a 17-year-old female student in a swimming pool during a 1999 school trip to Costa Rica.

Spanish teacher Jaime Rivera-Murillo allegedly forced anal sex on the student in an incident witnessed — and corroborated — by three other students, including one who was nearly struck by Rivera-Murillo when he tried to remove him from the girl.

Less than 24 hours after the alleged incident, Choate’s dean arrived in Costa Rica, and Rivera-Murillo, who denied the allegations when Choate’s investigator questioned him earlier this year, was soon fired for “just cause.”

He went on to work at other schools, including as principal of Wamogo Regional High School in Litchfield, Connecticut, a position from which he resigned last week.

The lawyer for that public school district, which had recently been contacted by Choate, said Rivera-Murillo had been principal for less than a year, used only Rivera as his last name and did not list Choate as a past employer.

Some of the Choate students who were abused told the investigator that they were flattered by the attention from the school staff and faculty, but realized later they had been victims of abuse. Others said they did not file reports out of fear that they would not be believed, a common reason many victims of abuse do not seek help. 

For its alumni who have been victims of sexual abuse or assault, Choate created an independent therapy fund.

To read the full investigation report, click here. Warning: It contacts graphic content.

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