Massive Sex Abuse Scandal Swirls Around Prep School

40 alumni say they were abused
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2016 4:04 PM CST

(Newser) – A sex abuse scandal is swirling around a Rhode Island prep school. At least 40 former students of St. George's School in Middletown have said they were abused—raped, in some cases—by seven former staffers and four students between 1974 and 2004, lawyers say. The scandal came to light in December, when St. George's announced it was investigating reports of sex abuse in the '70s and '80s. The Rhode Island State Police is also investigating the accusations forwarded to the department by the school and the lawyers of the alleged victims, the New York Times reports. No one has yet been criminally charged. The school's investigation was prompted by a former student who says she was molested by the school's athletic trainer in 1977 and who finally pushed St. George's to investigate her accusations last year, the Boston Globe reports.

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When the school announced its investigation, other alleged victims started coming forward. Four of the accused staff members are still living, and at least two of them may still be working around young people. Lawyers and three of the victims said at a recent news conference that the school downplayed the abuse for years, and St. George's admitted that though it did fire some of the accused, it did not report suspects to the police or relay the accusations to their next employers. Some victims are calling for Eric Peterson, the head of the school, to step down, accusing him of not taking the reports from alumni seriously. "Eric Peterson has been covering this up since 2004, my issue as well as others," says one 1982 grad. The alleged victim who finally successfully demanded that the school investigate first tried to sue decades ago, but says she was pressured into dropping the case by the school. Click for more on the accusations. (Read more sexual abuse stories.)

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