Emma Willard report details decades-long history of sexual misconduct

TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Emma Willard School has released a report detailing sexual misconduct by school faculty members dating back decades.

The nearly 130-page report is in response to allegations made last year by a former student who revealed she had been raped by a male teacher in 1998.

The report reveals a dark side to the all-girls boarding school in Troy extending nearly 70 years. The report’s authors interviewed 75 former students and faculty about their experiences, detailing shocking accounts of sexual misconduct and abuse at Emma Willard School.

In the 1950s, the report says a math teacher married a 16-year-old student and had two children. The couple later divorced.

The report details the existence of a sexually active clique of teachers and students known as the “Gate House Gang,” named for where one of the educators lived. According to the report, the clique lasted for years.

The report states one teacher in the 1970s had what the report describes as a kind of harem, and one alumna described how a male teacher would fondle her under the table as he taught.

Overall, the report describes the widespread “grooming” of young women, behavior used by offenders to manipulate students in order to make them more accustomed to sexual assault later on.

One account describes: “Ms. Kelly bought her gifts…It was not long before Ms. Kelly asked her to ‘take off [her] clothes,’ to ‘hug [her],’ ‘love [her],’ touch [her].’”

“There wasn’t a whole lot of laws to protect against it at that time,” Tully Rinckey attorney Michael Macomber said.

Most of the accounts contained in the report are old enough to be past the statute of limitations. But Macomber said that doesn’t mean it won’t make a difference.

“The more we talk about it, the more we discuss these claims, the more attention that’s being brought, hopefully, more people come forward,” he said.

In a statement released alongside the report, the Emma Willard School apologized “profoundly to all who have been harmed.” The school says it is committed to a change in their culture, policies, and curriculum, and that the school will continue to investigate abuse and monitor an anonymous tip line.

We are committed to the change in our culture, our policies, and our curriculum that comes with our awareness of this issue.  We bring resolve and purpose to build a better, safer school. We have shared with the community the details of many of those changes and efforts to date.

 To read the full report, and the Emma Willard School’s statement visit: https://www.emmawillard.org/content/april-18-2017-release-cozen-oconnor-report-emma-community

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