Private school reveals past misconduct by teachers

Posted at 8:56 AM, Jan 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-06 08:56:48-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A private school in western New York revealed Friday that 10 teachers had improper relationships with students over five decades.

Nichols School in Buffalo said the findings resulted from an investigation it began in May after a former student reported a yearslong sexual relationship with a teacher in the early 1990s that began when she was 17.

A second former student also recently wrote to administrators, saying she reported concerns about the first woman's relationship three times while in school but was ignored.

"By openly and fully acknowledging what occurred, we seek to provide these victims with validation for their courage to speak," Board of Trustees Chairman Jeff Meyer and Head of School Bill Clough wrote in releasing an 85-page report by the Washington, D.C., law firm Crowell & Moring.

None of the accused still teaches, the school said.

The report describes a prior lack of understanding of predatory "grooming" behaviors and said staff ignored red flags, like the unusual amount of time some teachers were known to spend with students in and out of school. Rampant rumors went uninvestigated, the report said, and faculty who did raise concerns experienced or feared retaliation by senior administrators. No one inquired about the well-being of the students involved, it said.

"Virtually all of the perpetrators ... used the school's hallmark, i.e., a school where teachers become 'mentors for life,' as a license to inappropriately fraternize, or to pursue inappropriate relationships, with students, and seemed unconcerned that school administrators would intervene or question them about appropriate professional boundaries," the report said.

The law firm said it interviewed 76 people who responded to open requests by Nichols for information about misconduct. Investigators said the 10 cases they found dating from the 1960s to mid-2000s probably do not represent all instances of inappropriate behavior. Not all victims were willing to talk, they said, and memories had dimmed over time.

The report identified three past administrators they said should have taken action.