12 former faculty members at prestigious Connecticut boarding school Choate Rosemary Hall have been accused of participating in a decades-long pattern of sexual abuse against students, according to a report released by the school's board of trustees. Though the report details incidents of molestation and, in one case, rape, at no point were the teachers reported to police.
The Times reports that an investigation found that teachers had been molesting students at the school since the 1960s, with allegations ranging from "intimate kissing" and "intimate touching" to the rape of a student on a school trip to Costa Rica. Though the report shows that parents and students had alerted school administrators to instances of abuse not long after they occurred, the school did apparently not begin to conduct an investigation into the teachers until at least 2013, when two alumni told the school they had been molested as students.
In 2016, the Boston Globe referenced Choate in a piece about private schools aiding teachers who molest students in finding new jobs. An alum told the paper she was involved in a "sexual relationship" with French teacher Bjorn Runquist in the early '90s; Runquist was forced to resign when the school learned of his conduct, but he was also given a recommendation and was hired at another Connecticut private school.
Not long after the Boston Globe piece came out, Choate hired a private investigator to look into past allegations against teachers at the school. The report revealed, among other things, that former Spanish teacher Jaime Rivera-Murillo allegedly raped a then-17-year-old student in a swimming pool on a school trip to Costa Rica. Students reported the incident to school officials, and Rivera-Murillo, who told administrators he had been drinking with the students, was fired for "just cause." He was not reported to police, and he continued to work elsewhere as an educator, eventually becoming principal of a Connecticut high school.
Another alum recounted being sexually abused both by her math teacher and the aforementioned Runquist in the '90s. A parent reported their child contracting herpes from a teacher in the 1980s. As recently as 2010, "longtime" faculty member Charles Timlin was accused of kissing a student; the then-headmaster let him stay on staff until the student's father contacted the school the following academic year.
"Sexual misconduct matters were handled internally and quietly,” the board of trustees report states. "Even when a teacher was terminated or resigned in the middle of the school year because he or she had engaged in sexual misconduct with a student, the rest of the faculty was told little and sometimes nothing about the teacher’s departure and, when told, was cautioned to say nothing about the situation if asked."
Choate, whose alumni include John F. Kennedy and Adlai Stevenson, joins a long list of local private schools with histories of sexual abuse often covered up by administrators. In 2012, the Times published a long investigation into "the secret history" of abuse at elite NYC high school Horace Mann. Alumni recently accused a former varsity football coach at Brooklyn's Poly Prep of abusing them in the 1960s. A former student at upstate private school the Emma Willard School recently revealed she was gagged and raped by a teacher in 1998.
Sexual abuse of students by teachers is not limited to private schools, but experts say the close-knit nature of these institutions makes abuse easier to commit. "They are closed systems, especially residential private schools where kids are separated from their parents,” Paul Mones, a lawyer who represents victims of sexual abuse, told the Times. "It’s not like a public school, with people coming in and out all the time. There are many more opportunities for teachers to do this."
Only five of the 12 teachers named in Choate's report are still alive; it is unclear what consequences they will face. No current teachers were implicated in the report.