Prep school ex-students call for 2nd probe into abuse claims

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MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (AP) — Former students who claim they were sexually abused at a prestigious Rhode Island boarding school are calling for another investigation after the school issued a report acknowledging the accusations.

An internal investigation recently found that 26 students at St. George's School were sexually abused by six school employees in the 1970s and '80s.

The private coeducational Episcopal school in Middletown sent a report to alumni in which school officials apologized and detailed the credible allegations. Administrators at the time fired three staff members but didn't report the matter to state authorities.

Lawyers representing some of the 26 former students said they've identified at least 39 accusers and called the report a "sanitized version of the truth," the Providence Journal ( ) reported.

"(The investigation report) did not state anything about the failures of the current school leadership," lawyer Eric MacLeish said.

An online petition calls for another investigation and criticizes the school's hiring of Will Hannum as investigator in the internal review, questioning how independent he could be in scrutinizing the school's actions since he is a law partner of the school's legal counsel.

One of the accusers said she cooperated with the internal investigation but felt betrayed when she learned later that Hannum was associated with the school's lawyer.

Andy Paven of O'Neill and Associates, a public relations firm retained by the school, said St. George's investigation and report was "a conscious effort by the headmaster to not avoid the past and to try to grapple with it."

Neither Headmaster Eric Peterson nor board chairwoman Leslie Heaney was available for comment.


Information from: The Providence Journal,

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