Rhode Island prep school settles up to 30 sex-abuse claims

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Elite Prep School Agrees To Settle Abuse Claims



St. George's School, an elite prep school in Rhode Island, has decided to settle with up to 30 former students who claim to have been sexually abused. Dozens have come forward with stories of sexual abuse dating back to the 1970s and as recent as the 2000s, the Associated Press reports. And in most cases, the school did not report the claims to authorities.

"People feel like this is the school recognizing what they went through," Eric MacLeish, an attorney who represents the victims, told the AP. "Something terrible happened to them, and the school is now saying, 'We're sorry that this happened, that it occurred at our school, and we want to recognize the harm that occurred, and we want to do something about it.'"

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St. George's Prep School sexual abuse allegations
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St. George's Prep School sexual abuse allegations
In this Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016 photo buildings at St. George's School rest on top of a hill in Middletown, R.I. The exclusive New England boarding school, whose alumni include Astors, Vanderbilts and Bushes, has been rocked by a sex abuse scandal. Dozens of former students say they were raped or molested by employees or schoolmates over the past four decades. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
In this Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016 photo a sign rests at an entrance to St. George's School in Middletown, R.I. The exclusive New England boarding school, whose alumni include Astors, Vanderbilts and Bushes, has been rocked by a sex abuse scandal. Dozens of former students say they were raped or molested by employees or schoolmates over the past four decades. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
In this Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016 photo a car departs an entrance to St. George's School in Middletown, R.I. The exclusive New England boarding school, whose alumni include Astors, Vanderbilts and Bushes, has been rocked by a sex abuse scandal. Dozens of former students say they were raped or molested by employees or schoolmates over the past four decades. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
In this Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016 photo a sign rests near a stone wall near the edge of the campus belonging to St. George's School, in Middletown, R.I. The exclusive New England boarding school, whose alumni include Astors, Vanderbilts and Bushes, has been rocked by a sex abuse scandal. Dozens of former students say they were raped or molested by employees or schoolmates over the past four decades. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Harry Groome, of Arlington, Mass., third from right, a former student at St. George's School from 1978-1982, speaks to members of the media while sitting with attorneys, Carmen Durso, fifth from right, and Eric MacLeish, fourth from right, and former students from the school, right and second from right, during a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, in Boston. Former students who say they were sexually abused at the prestigious Rhode Island boarding school are calling for an independent investigation into the abuse. Groome claims he was raped at age 14 by a fellow student. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Katie Wales Lovkay, of Granby, Conn., left, who attended St. George's School from 1977-1980, is tearful while facing reporters as Harry Groome, of Arlington, Mass., right, who attended the school from 1978-1982, looks on during a news conference, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, in Boston. Former students of the prestigious boarding school in Middletown, R.I., are calling for an independent investigation into sexual abuse that they say spanned three decades and involved at least seven former staff members. Lovkay claims she was sexually assaulted by the school's now deceased athletic trainer, while Groome claims he was raped at age 14 by a fellow student. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Katie Wales Lovkay, of Granby, Conn., left, is tearful while facing reporters, as Anne Scott, of Charlottesville, Va., right, looks on during a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, in Boston. Former students of the prestigious boarding school in Middletown, R.I., are calling for an independent investigation into sexual abuse that they say spanned three decades and involved at least seven former staff members. Scott and Lovkay, who both attended St. George's School from 1977-1980, claim they were sexually assaulted by the school's now deceased athletic trainer. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Anne Scott, of Charlottesville, Va., right, and Katie Wales Lovkay, of Granby, Conn., behind left, who both attended St. George's School from 1977-1980, face reporters during a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, in Boston. Former students of the prestigious boarding school in Middletown, R.I., are calling for an independent investigation into sexual abuse that they say spanned three decades and involved at least seven former staff members. Scott and Lovkay claim they were sexually assaulted by the school's now deceased athletic trainer. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Anne Scott, of Charlottesville, Va., center, and Katie Wales Lovkay, of Granby, Conn., right, who both attended St. George's School from 1977-1980, face reporters during a news conference as attorney Eric MacLeish, left, looks on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, in Boston. Former students of the prestigious boarding school in Middletown, R.I., are calling for an independent investigation into sexual abuse that they say spanned three decades and involved at least seven former staff members. Scott and Lovkay claim they were sexually assaulted by the school's now deceased athletic trainer. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Katie Wales Lovkay, of Granby, Conn., center right, who attended St. George's School from 1977-1980, hugs a former classmate, left, following a news conference, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, in Boston. Former students of the prestigious boarding school in Middletown, R.I., are calling for an independent investigation into sexual abuse that they say spanned three decades and involved at least seven former staff members. Lovkay claims she was sexually assaulted by the school's now deceased athletic trainer. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Katie Wales Lovkay, of Granby, Conn., right, who attended St. George's School from 1977-1980, hugs a former classmate, following a news conference, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, in Boston. Former students of the prestigious boarding school in Middletown, R.I., are calling for an independent investigation into sexual abuse that they say spanned three decades and involved at least seven former staff members. Lovkay claims she was sexually assaulted by the school's now deceased athletic trainer. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Katie Wales Lovkay, of Granby, Conn., who attended St. George's School from 1977-1980, is tearful while facing reporters during a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, in Boston. Former students of the prestigious boarding school in Middletown, R.I., are calling for an independent investigation into sexual abuse that they say spanned three decades and involved at least seven former staff members. Lovkay claims she was sexually assaulted by the school's now deceased athletic trainer. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Harry Groome, of Arlington, Mass., center right, who attended St. George's School from 1978-1982, hugs a former classmate, center left, as Katie Wales Lovkay, of Granby, Conn., left, who attended the school from 1977-1980, looks on following a news conference, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, in Boston. Former students of the prestigious boarding school in Middletown, R.I., are calling for an independent investigation into sexual abuse that they say spanned three decades and involved at least seven former staff members. Lovkay claims she was sexually assaulted by the school's now deceased athletic trainer, while Groome claims he was raped at age 14 by a fellow student. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
CAMBRIDGE, MA - OCTOBER 21: Anne Scott, photographed in the Cambridge office of her lawyer, Eric MacLeish. Anne Scott entered St. Georges School as a 10th-grader in 1977, just a few years after the prestigious prep school first admitted girls at its campus in Middletown, R.I. She was a good student, and a three-sport athlete, from the suburbs of Wilmington, Del. But a month after she arrived, a field hockey injury brought her into the orbit of the schools longtime athletic trainer. He molested and raped her, and threatened to come after her if she told anyone. (Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
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MacLeish declined to disclose the amount of the settlement, as did the school, but St. George's did confirm it will work with a mediator to determine how much money each victim will receive.

But Katie Wales Lovkay, who told the school she'd been abused by an athletic trainer in 1979, said it "was never about the money. This was about being heard, and St. George's realized that what they have done to us in the past is completely wrong." She added, "It's nice to know it's done."

State police investigated the school earlier this year, but no criminal charges were filed. The school and the victims reportedly agreed to conduct an independent investigation, which is expected to wrap up in the coming weeks.

St. George's is hardly the first prep school to be accused of mishandling sexual-assault cases — just last month, another New England school came under fire for suggesting that a student accused of sexual assault atone for his crime by baking the victim bread every week. The incident was eventually reported to police, and the alleged assailant was arrested.


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