A law firm’s investigation of the Nichols School, an upstate New York prep school, concluded there were “credible reports of sexual misconduct or inappropriate emotional relationships with students involving 10 former Nichols faculty members” during the 1960s through the mid-2000s. The Nichols School’s Board of Trustees launched the investigation after a former student came forward in May of 2017 alleging a former Nichols teacher began a sexual relationship with her during her senior year and a second alumna from the same class as the first came forward to say she had been aware of and worried about the “abnormal relationship.”
The Report shared the stories of many victims who chose to be a part of the investigation. At different points, the Report addressed grooming behavior and described how predators engage in this behavior to normalize their actions and minimize the likelihood of reporting. Though it recounted details of grooming and sexual behavior on the part of faculty members with minors, the word “abuse” is used just three times in 85 pages and only because the 2017 letters from the two alums requested Nichols “seriously examine its hidden culture around abuse” and the Report included those quotes. Instead, the Report used phrases such as “crossed inappropriate professional boundaries” and a “brief inappropriate relationship” to describe the sexual abuse of students by teachers.
Despite recognizing failures on parts of faculty and administrators to protect students, the Report concluded the lapses were not “’systemic,’ in the sense that faculty and administrators, over the past decades, consciously chose to stay silent in the face of faculty misconduct, at the expense of the well-being of individual students.” The Report emphasized that based on their investigation, no administrators acknowledged being aware of misconduct and intentionally allowed it to continue. Finally, the Report ended with a statement applauding the current Nichols School leadership and their commitment to ensure the same misconduct does not occur again. We can only hope they are worthy of this praise.
If you or someone you know has a question concerning sexual abuse in a private school or boarding school, please contact sexual abuse attorney Paul Mones.