Gilman School launches investigation into past sexual abuse

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More than 10 years after a teacher at Gilman School resigned following reports that he sexually abused students, the prestigious all-boys private school is launching a new investigation to see if there are any other victims of sexual abuse either in its current student body or among its alumni.

Gilman Headmaster Henry P. A. Smyth and Board of Trustees President Mark Fetting wrote in an email message to the “Gilman Family” last week that the school has hired a private company, T&M Protection Services of New York City, to conduct a “thorough, third-party investigation” of any reports of sexual abuse of students, past or present.

Smyth and Fetting also said in their letter that Smyth would be meeting with Middle School and Upper School students to discuss the investigation and address concerns that students may have and that counselors would be available for students. They also have met with faculty members and other staffers.

A spokesperson for the school could not be reached last week. The school leaders said in their email message that they are “not aware of any sexually abusive behavior with current students, faculty, or staff.”

They explained the new investigation is a follow-up to a 2008-2009 investigation following reports that a teacher and coach, Martin Meloy, had “engaged in sexually abusive behavior” with an unspecified number of students on separate occasions at his home in Baltimore County.

After students reported the abuse in November of 2008, the school leaders said, Meloy was “immediately removed” from Gilman and the activity was reported to the Baltimore County State’s Attorney, who reached a non-prosecution agreement with Meloy in 2009 that required him not to have unsupervised contact with minors. Meloy resigned from Gilman in 2009 and died in 2015.

“At the time the abuse was reported,” Smyth and Fetting wrote, “school leadership prioritized two things: removing Meloy from any involvement with students and promptly reporting Meloy’s behavior to the authorities, who would conduct an official investigation.”

Smyth and Fetting said in their email last week that the new investigation was prompted by a recent inquiry from one of the “survivors of Meloy’s abuse” who “reached out to us again.”

They said the recent inquiry prompted them to think about how Gilman handled the situation a decade ago and what more it could have done, looking “through the lens of society’s evolving recognition and understanding” of the “great harm” caused by abusive relationships and better understanding of ways to prevent and respond to sexual abuse today.

“With the benefit of hindsight,” they said, “we realize that we could have done more; specifically, we could have taken steps to determine if any other students had been harmed by Meloy’s grave violation of our students’ trust… After careful thought, we have concluded that we have a responsibility to pursue a full understanding of the nature and extent of abuse experienced.”

As a result, they said, Gilman engaged T&M to find out whether there were any other cases of sexual abuse that had not been addressed.

As part of the investigation, Gilman is asking “anyone who has been affected personally or who has information that may assist the investigation” to contact T&M. The person to contact is Laura Kirschstein, Vice President of Sexual Misconduct Consulting & Investigations for T&M, at (646) 445-7737, or [email protected]

The school leaders said the investigation in not confined to any specific time period.

“While the misconduct of Meloy has precipitated this letter and this investigation, we believe this is our opportunity to uphold our promise to Gilman survivors from every era,” they said. “We encourage anyone who has experienced or is aware of sexually abusive behavior by any Gilman faculty or staff members during any era in our history to contact Ms. Kirschstein, even if you have raised allegations to the school before.”

Once it concludes its work, the school leaders said, T&M will report its findings to a committee formed by Gilman’s trustees to oversee the investigation and make recommendations to the full board, and the school will “update the community on any pertinent information.” The school assured parents and students that “the utmost care will be taken to preserve confidentiality.”

In their email, Smyth and Fetting said they are “profoundly sorry” that any members of the Gilman community were subjected to sexual abuse.

“We fully appreciate that this news can and will be difficult for our community—perhaps notably, our alumni—to receive,” they said. “As disturbing as this case is, we must learn from it so that we may continuously strengthen the pursuit of our mission.”

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