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Exclusive School Settles With Girl

December 7, 1998

CONCORD, Mass. (AP) _ A 16-year-old girl who claimed she was the victim of anti-Semitic notes and threats won a financial settlement and an apology from her prestigious prep school for suggesting she was mentally ill and staged the whole thing.

Neither side would disclose the terms of the settlement, reached last month between the Middlesex School in Concord and the parents of Lucy Weber.

Lucy, who is of mixed Jewish-Protestant ancestry, now attends school elsewhere.

``We were victimized more by the administration than we were by the notes,″ said Lucy’s mother, Katherine Weber. Lucy’s parents accused the school of trying to protect its reputation at their daughter’s expense.

The school denied that.

``Its entire motive in this matter was to get to the bottom of what was going on so that it could remedy it,″ said John Mason, the school’s lawyer.

Lucy said she found four notes _ one saying ``Gas for the Jew″ _ and a swastika and defaced photograph at the school last year and early this year. After Lucy reported the notes, school officials called police.

Lucy’s mother said she was told that Lucy passed a lie detector test requested by the school, while the school said the results were inconclusive.

Her father said that Deirdre Ling, head of the school, told him Lucy had multiple personalities and would have to leave the school. However, a psychologist hired by the family reported there was no sign of a mental disorder.

Last March, the school sent a letter to parents saying that police had determined there was no hate crime ``and that the student apparently targeted by the notes may herself have been the author of some or all of them.″

Concord Deputy Police Chief Frederick Ryan said the department didn’t have enough evidence to make a case against anyone and suspended the investigation.

After the settlement was reached, school officials sent out a letter apologizing for ``misleading statements″ in the March letter. They said that there had been no police report, and that the implication that Lucy wrote the notes was ``regrettable and unfounded.″

Lucy’s great-grandfather James P. Warburg also encountered anti-Semitism as a student at Middlesex back in 1913. But he eventually became a benefactor of the school, donating money that helped build the library.

The school, which counts former Gov. William F. Weld, actor William Hurt, and U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson among its alumni, was the setting for the movie ``School Ties″ _ about a student who battles the anti-Semitism of his peers. It is shown to Middlesex students each fall.

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