Emma Willard School investigating decades old sex abuse allegations

TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Officials at Emma Willard, a well-known private girls boarding school in Troy, say they have learned about historical allegations of sexual abuse involving Emma Willard students.

According to a letter sent to the Emma Willard community Interim head of School Dr. Susan Groesbeck says the reported incidents are from the 1970s and the 1990s.

Dr. Groesbeck says the school received a report in April that a student had been sexually assaulted by a teacher in 1998. Dr. Groesbeck says that same year a teacher at Emma Willard School was dismissed for violating the school’s policy against faculty/student relationships.

The Emma Willard School says they were not aware of any sexual assault allegations against the teachers at the time.

Dr. Groesbeck says the school is following established protocols for such situations, and has reported the allegations to the local authorities and sought the assistance of external child abuse experts to guide in sensitive and informed fact gathering.

In her letter, Dr. Groesbeck went on to say:

“I am saddened to share that we have learned about historical allegations of abuse involving Emma Willard students. We have treated these reports seriously and with an earnest intent to understand how the abuse occurred, how it has impacted the individuals who reached out to us, and how we can learn from past experiences to better protect current and future students.”

In a second letter yesterday she gave more details, saying quote.”

Dr. Groesbeck also warned parents that more information could come out in the national media in the near future.

In a statement Thursday, Dr. Groesbeck assured the Emma Willard community that the reported incidents are isolated and in no way systemic or current.

“We have had, in our history, thousands of girls in our care,” said Dr. Groesbeck. “Ours is a culture of excellence and extraordinary care; a supportive, committed, experienced nurturing environment.”

Troy Police would not confirm if they are investigating now, but said they are looking into it.

“It was quite a long time ago, so it’s taking a little while,” said a representative for the Police Department.

Two local attorneys said that due to the amount of time that has passed since the alleged incidents, prosecution or charges may not even be possible.

The statute of limitations on such incidents requires they be reported within 5 years.

In her letter, Dr. Groesbeck also apologized to the Emma Willard community:

“Most importantly, we are acknowledging the harm that has been caused by former Emma Willard employees, and offer our deepest apologies to those young women who were impacted by the immoral and illegal actions of those who would abuse the trust placed in them by Emma Willard School.”

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