Sexual Abuse At Private Schools

May 9, 2016

The Boston Globe Spotlight Team is at it again, uncovering hundreds of potential cases of sexual abuse, dating back decades. This latest investigation focused not on the Catholic Church but on private schools across New England. The Spotlight team identified more than 200 survivors at at least 67 private schools in the region.

Among them are former students of the Fessenden school, a day and boarding school for boys, which is located in West Newton. School administrators now say at least 17 people have complained about abuse by former employees, including a former assistant headmaster, two teachers, the head of the glee club and a school psychologist. 

Two of the accusers, John Sweeney and Adrian Hooper, joined Jim on Monday night with their stories, along with their lawyer, well known for his work with survivors, Mitchell Garabedien.

Hooper began attending Fessenden School in the early 1960's, at age 11. About a year later, he was sexually abused by the school's glee club and drama director, Claude Hasbrouck. Hooper ran away from the school, as the climate of abuse was too distressing. He didn't tell anyone about his abuse until this past year. He said he felt "abandoned and unloved by his parents," and "lived on the streets for years and years," with an addiction problem. 

Sweeney also began attending Fessenden School at age 11, in the year 1969. He was sexually abused by Arthur Clarridge, the Assistant Headmaster of the school, who Sweeney said, "groomed" his parents first. Sweeney spoke emotionally about the events of his abuse, and the impact they have had on his life. Today, Sweeney suffers from PTSD, with recurring nightmares. "It ruined my life," he said. 

 

Fessenden School Statement

We are deeply saddened, and we apologize on behalf of the school to those who were harmed. We hope that you will find that our recent letter to the community speaks for itself and provides additional background and clarity. In 2011, The Fessenden School acknowledged and apologized for abuses that took place decades ago and offered counseling to anyone who was harmed. We have acted with compassion and concern forthe victims. The School proactively attempted mediation, and we maintain our hope that the victims and their attorney wish to re-engage in mediation.


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