Former prep school student alleges abuse on athletic trips
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A former student at a Massachusetts preparatory school has filed a federal lawsuit alleging he was sexually abused by a faculty member while on athletic trips to Connecticut in the 1980s.
The former Deerfield Academy student names the school and its former golf and squash coaches as defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut on June 19.
The former student alleges that after golf and squash matches at other prep schools in Connecticut, the coaches would bring him to the car of English teacher Bryce Lambert, who would abuse him before driving him home.
Lambert died in 2007. No criminal charges were brought against him or the two coaches.
School spokesman David Thiel said the lawsuit stems from allegations that were investigated by the school, which issued a report in 2013. As a result of that investigation, the school’s policies on sexual harassment and misconduct were updated, he said.
Margarita Curtis, Deerfield’s head of school and Philip Greer, who was then president of the board of trustees, wrote a letter to the school community when that report was issued emphasizing it had “zero tolerance” for inappropriate teacher-student relationships.
“We offer a heartfelt apology to the victims-and a pledge to ensure the safest possible environment for our students,” they wrote.
Messages seeking comment were left at the North Carolina home of former golf coach John Graney. Former squash coach Peter Hindle, reached by phone at his home in Massachusetts, declined to comment.
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents the plaintiff, said the lawsuit alleges negligent supervision by the school and the former coaches. He said the school provided transportation to the away games and does not know why it allowed Lambert to give the student rides home.
“Given my experience with sexual abuse cases, there are usually many more victims who will come forward sooner or later,” he said.
The abuse occurred while the plaintiff attended the school between 1982 and 1985, Garabedian said.
The victim only recently came to terms with the abuse, which contributed to numerous problems in his life, including depression, panic attacks, alcohol abuse, diet pill abuse, and thoughts of suicide, Garabedian said.
“Victims of sexual abuse can only come forward when they are emotionally capable,” he said. “It takes many, many years for victims of sexual abuse to gather the strength and courage to come forward.”
Garabedian said he is unaware of any other student-athletes being abused during the road trips, but recently reached a six-figure private settlement with Hindle in an unrelated sexual abuse case involving another former student. No charges were filed again Hindle.
As a result of the school’s investigation, Hindle’s name was removed from Deerfield’s squash facility and a fund and writing fellowship named for Lambert were renamed.