First on 10: Gordon School investigates allegations of sex assault dating to 1970s
EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WJAR) —
The Gordon School said Tuesday that it is investigating allegations of sexual assault involving several students and a faculty member in the 1970s.
The allegation comes after a former student recently met with outgoing Head of School Ralph Wales.
Wales sent out a letter Friday to more than 3,000 parents and teachers, as well as former parents, explaining that the alleged contact with a single student took place in the 1970s and involved a teacher who is no longer at the school.
“We are committed to thoroughly addressing all that is brought to our attention and will take appropriate action,” Wales said in the letter, also asking for any additional information, including anonymous reports.
A subsequent statement from the school to NBC 10 News on Tuesday, however, references “several students.”
Police told NBC 10 that’s because a few more former students came forward after the school sent the letter.
“I do not know at this juncture exactly how large it's going to grow,” Capt. Bruce Kidman of the East Providence Police Department said. “I'd be very content if we stayed with the several names that we have, but my stomach tells me that it's probably going to grow to a bit more.”
NBC 10 confirmed that the school, which is located in East Providence, contacted police. It has also hired Neal McNamara of the Law Firm Nixon Peabody, LLP, an attorney with experience with private schools in sexual abuse cases to conduct an investigation.
"We have brought these allegations to the attention of law enforcement and will provide any further assistance needed," Wales noted in a statement emailed to NBC 10. "We treat this matter very seriously and have taken a proactive approach to ensure the safety of all past, present and future Gordon students."
Wales went on to say that “we will continue to employ the strongest measures to protect our students now and in the future.”
Police issued a press release Tuesday evening, saying that they have initiated a preliminary investigation.
No current administrator, faculty or staff member was employed at the school during that time, the statement noted.
The school did not release the name of the faculty member tied to the investigation, but the teacher at the center of the investigation left the school in 1976.
The Gordon School is a private co-ed school in East Providence for students from nursery through eighth grade. It was founded in 1910.