Prep school settles case alleging 1980s abuse for $500,000

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A western Massachusetts preparatory school will pay $500,000 to settle a lawsuit by a former student who said he was sexually abused by a faculty member on trips to Connecticut and elsewhere in the 1980s, his attorney said Tuesday.

The plaintiff alleged in the lawsuit, filed last June in federal court in Connecticut, that he was abused while on Deerfield Academy trips for golf and squash matches against other prep schools.

Besides the school, the lawsuit named two former coaches as defendants, alleging that after competitions they would take the former student to the car of English teacher Bryce Lambert, who would abuse him before driving him home. Lambert died in 2007, and no criminal charges were brought against him or the two coaches.

The abuse occurred while the plaintiff attended the school between 1983 and 1985, when he was between the ages of 15 and 17, his attorney Mitchell Garabedian said. Garabedian, who's noted for his representation of church abuse victims, said Lambert molested the student more than 100 times on trips around New England and New York state.

"My client looked to Bryce Lambert as having total power and authority," Garabedian said. "My client would attend squash events and golf events in Connecticut against other schools, and Bryce Lambert would be waiting in the parking lot to take my client on excursions."

A school spokesman, David Thiel, said he wouldn't comment on the settlement out of respect for the plaintiff's privacy.

A 2013 investigation conducted by a law firm for Deerfield Academy found evidence that Lambert had sexual contact with two students during his tenure there. The primary focus of the investigation was allegations of misconduct against Peter Hindle, who taught there from 1956 to 2000. No charges were filed against Hindle.

Deerfield leaders wrote in a letter that the school "could have moved more forcefully" to address signs of unacceptable behavior by Hindle and apologized.

As a result of the investigation, the school updated its policies on sexual harassment and misconduct. Hindle's name was removed from its squash facility, and a fund and writing fellowship named for Lambert were renamed.

Garabedian said that at the time of his client's abuse, Hindle was the supervisor of Lambert, who was head of the English department. Hindle has declined to comment.

Garabedian previously reached a six-figure private settlement with Hindle in an unrelated case involving another former student.

The Associated Press generally doesn't identify people who say they're victims of sexual abuse.

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