September 1, 2016
Dear St. George’s Parents,
I am writing to inform you that the independent investigation into past sexual misconduct at St. George’s has concluded and that the investigation report was issued earlier today. You may recall that this inquiry was jointly commissioned by the School and SGS for Healing, a group of alumni survivors of sexual abuse. The lead investigator and author of the report was Martin Murphy, a former state and federal prosecutor, and a senior partner at the Boston law firm of Foley Hoag.
In fulfillment of our promise to remain fully transparent on this issue, the investigation has been made publicly available. Below is a letter from Leslie Heaney, Chair of the Board of Trustees at St. George’s, that links to the full report. The report is lengthy, and it describes in detail elements of our School’s painful past. The report also makes note of the ways in which today’s school differs from those times, both in general culture, and with regard to current policies and practices, which the report calls “state of the art.”
With a new school year beginning, and as both the Head of School and a fellow parent, I wish to underscore once more that the safety and well-‐being of our students remains the School’s highest priority. If you would like more information about our current practices, a detailed description is available on the school website under the School Life/Health and Safety tab. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if we can answer any questions.
Eric F. Peterson
Head of School
July 7, 2016
Happy summer all!
I’m writing to thank the overwhelming majority of parents who gave to this year’s St. George’s Fund—your generosity helped St. George’s meet its target for the 2015 – 16 school year. This fund supports current programs, and given the recent months of painful self-‐examination and public scrutiny of the School, reaching that goal speaks volumes about our community and its commitment to ensuring today’s Dragons continue to receive an outstanding education.
Media attention to St. George’s continues. I’ve heard that the Boston Globe will soon be running a second story in its Spotlight series on boarding schools and that a number of schools will be mentioned, including St. George’s. Additionally, the latest issue of Vanity Fair has a lengthy article about historical sexual abuse at St. George’s and the school’s response in recent times—it went on the newsstands today.
The lessons learned through this difficult time make St. George’s especially vigilant about keeping its students as safe as possible. David Wolowitz, renowned for pioneering the application of behavioral risk management concepts to promote healthy school cultures, advises the School on policies, practices and reporting procedures on an ongoing basis. He met with the Board of Trustees in June and also conducted an interactive workshop for faculty on how to promote healthy relationships with students, recognize and address early signs of inappropriate behavior, and respond to allegations of misconduct. I encourage parents—new and returning alike—to review the school’s safety protocols and support resources, which can be found here.
Finally, the search for a new Head of School to succeed Eric Peterson next summer is underway. Because our new Head will be building on a legacy of academic success and innovation, I am confident that our wonderful school will be attracting the very best candidates. The Search Committee will be seeking input from the St. George’s community throughout the search process and has asked the Parent Committee to facilitate that—we’ll be sending out a survey later this summer and I encourage you to share your thoughts, which will be thoughtfully considered by the Search Committee.
Our family sends its best wishes for a most enjoyable summer to all our fellow Dragon families!
Lisa Smith Molinari, P’18, P’16
Co-‐Chair, Parent Committee
May 7, 2016
In light of our community’s ongoing discussions concerning allegations of sexual misconduct at St. George’s, some have asked about the current practices and climate at the school, seeking to understand more fully what measures we take to support the safety and well being of our students and seeking answers to the question, “What is St. George’s like today?”
We have taken a number of steps to ensure that safety protocols are strong and support resources are readily available. Among them, the school recently retained David Wolowitz, who is renowned in this area, to advise us on policies, practices and reporting procedures.
Our efforts range from the thorough vetting and training of our employees, to education and training for students at every level. Educational efforts are supplemented by school policies, resources, and personnel devoted to supporting the health and safety of our students.
Specifically with regard to issues of social dynamics and sexual consent, the school has made and continues to make a substantial and intentional effort to address the complex issues faced by this generation of students and society in general.
These policies, practices and reporting procedures are reviewed on an annual basis, as are our support structures, and are amended whenever necessary to ensure that we are doing our best to meet the needs of our students. You can find them here, and I encourage you to review them in order to learn more about the safety mechanisms, policies, and procedures we have in place.
The independent investigation into the history of sexual abuse at St. George’s will shed a bright light on a deeply painful part of our past. This reality has, unsurprisingly, generated ongoing media coverage, including a story about sexual misconduct at several boarding schools, including St. George’s, scheduled to appear tomorrow in the Boston Globe.
This is a challenging time, but know that we are resolved to do all that we can to support the St. George’s community, especially our survivors, and to ensure that we are doing all we can to keep our students healthy and safe. Our goal is to not merely be compliant with current standards of training and reporting, but to be a leader among our peer schools in cultivating a safe, healthy, and vigilant school community.
In the meantime, we thank you for your continued devotion to St. George’s and to the important work of the School.
Head of School
January 20, 2016
St. George’s School and SGS for Healing today announced the retention of a new independent investigator, after being unable to reach agreement on legal terms of engagement with Scott Harshbarger and his firm, Casner & Edwards. The inability to reach agreement with C&E had nothing to do with the purpose of the independent investigation, or any underlying facts. All parties have great respect for Mr. Harshbarger and his work, and remain committed to conducting an independent, comprehensive and thorough investigation.
To that end, St. George’s School and SGS for Healing are pleased to announce that Martin F. Murphy, a partner at the law firm of Foley Hoag in Boston, has agreed to serve as the independent investigator. Mr. Murphy is a former First Assistant District Attorney in Middlesex County and former Chief of the Major Crimes Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts. He has an outstanding reputation and a proven track record as an investigator and courtroom advocate.
January 13, 2016
Dear St. George’s Parents,
These recent weeks have been challenging and difficult ones for St. George’s as an institution, yet the incredible work of our students and faculty continues uninterrupted. That said, we are committed to providing you with regular updates and accurate information on the School’s investigation into historical sexual abuse by former faculty and students.
On Monday afternoon we reached agreement with SGS for Healing, an organization of alumni survivors of abuse, on the independent investigator who will lead the next phase of the investigation. We are fortunate that Scott Harshbarger, Esq., of the Boston law firm Casner & Edwards, has agreed to serve as the lead investigator. Mr. Harshbarger, the former Middlesex County District Attorney and Attorney General of Massachusetts, is a recognized expert in independent investigations. Further information concerning Mr. Harshbarger’s background, along with his contact information, can be found here: http://www.casneredwards.com/attorneys/scott-harshbarger/.
In conjunction with SGS for Healing, an organization of some alumni survivors of abuse, St. George’s has announced that Day One of Rhode Island, a non-profit provider of clinical treatment, intervention, education, advocacy, and prevention services for victims of sexual abuse will provide a program for mental health assistance for survivors. A copy of this joint statement is available here.
Any alumnus or alumna who was the victim of sexual abuse by faculty, staff, or students at St. George’s School and is in need of crisis mental health assistance or a referral to a local mental health professional can receive immediate help by contacting Day One. These services will be paid for by the School. There is no set limit on the number of counseling sessions available to survivors, and reimbursement will be made on a renewable basis. Processing of such payments to providers will be handled by an independent third-party Claims Administrator to ensure that privacy is protected.
As noted in a separate letter to our alumni, any alum wishing to receive crisis mental health assistance or a referral to a local mental health professional may contact Courtney Miner at Day One at (401) 421-4100 ext. 146. Those seeking reimbursement for current counseling costs should also contact Day One for a brief intake process and referral to the Claims Administrator.
With these two important steps, we have placed the critical work of the investigation and the caring for survivors in the hands of capable professionals. As we continue to focus on educating and caring for our current students and supporting our St. George’s community at large, please be assured that all of our alumni have access to the support they need from professionals equipped to provide it. We remain committed to sharing the findings of the new investigation with you, but we do not expect that will be for some time. We have asked that the investigation be conducted in a manner that is thorough and exhaustive, while at the same time sensitive to survivors.
In the interim, we will continue to make updates and information available at http://saintgeorges.wpengine.com/. Please also feel free to contact Tim Burns, a member of the Board of Trustees and current parent, or Katie Titus, Associate Head for School Life, who are serving as our parent liaisons. Tim can be reached by phone at 401-662-5320 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Katie can be reached by phone at 401-842-6703 or by email at Katie_titus@stgeorges.edu.
In closing, I want to reiterate to you that today’s school takes tremendous pride in our efforts to ensure the safety and health of your children. The landscape of the lives they lead is complex, and our partnership with you to help them navigate adolescence is critically important. Thank you for your continued and unwavering support of our school and of our efforts to address the past while strengthening and supporting the experience of our students today.
Head of School
January 4, 2016
As the students return to campus, we wanted to provide you with an update regarding the investigation commissioned by the School into sexual abuse by former faculty and former students. As you may know, several news articles have been published in recent weeks detailing the findings of the investigation and the reactions of survivors. Our community — and especially the victims of these terrible crimes — is struggling to understand and respond to this unfortunate chapter in our School’s history.
As difficult as these recent weeks have been, we want to assure all parents of students at St. George’s that your children’s well being and safety are of paramount importance to us. We are fully committed to fostering a safe and productive academic environment for your children, and are doing all we can to ensure they are well cared for. As you may know, all St. George’s School employees undergo criminal background checks, reference checks, and careful screening throughout the hiring process. The School requires all employees to participate in regular training on boundary issues and mandatory reporting requirements, and students are engaged in a series of conversations concerning sexual assault. We continue to assess our policies in this area in keeping with best practices across the country.
We want the entire St. George’s School community to know that we are sorry for the tremendous harm done to those alumni who suffered sexual abuse by former employees and former students. Furthermore, we apologize that the way in which these incidents were addressed by the School may have served to compound these wounds. Our focus going forward is on working with all involved to support survivors in their efforts to heal, and we will do all in our power to ensure that the tragedy of sexual abuse is never repeated again at St. George’s School.
We are actively taking steps to assist survivors by authorizing reimbursement of counseling costs, and we understand that, in order to provide a safe environment for our current and future students, we must continue to learn from past mistakes. This is the reason we commissioned an outside investigation into historical incidents of sexual abuse. Though we have made a public report on the investigation, the work remains ongoing as we will continue to collect and clarify information and cooperate with law enforcement and state child protection agencies. We welcome the opportunity to hear from anyone with new information to provide as we pursue this investigation.
We hope that by encouraging an open and ongoing dialogue on these critical issues, we will begin the healing process for all involved, and ensure that St. George’s School provides the safest possible environment for the students of today and tomorrow.
For additional information on these matters, please feel free to contact Associate Head of School Katie Titus. Students can also contact our Director of Counseling, Dr. Jeff Goldman (401-842-6750) confidentially on any issue. In the meantime, know that we remain completely devoted to teaching and protecting your children.
Leslie B. Heaney ’92
Head of School