Advisory Committee for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Education (SMPE)

In line with Hotchkiss's commitment to the safety of students, the School has established an Advisory Committee for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Education. The SMPE Advisory Committee comprises Hotchkiss alumni, representatives from the Board of Trustees, current Hotchkiss faculty, and experts in the field of sexual abuse and prevention.

The Advisory Committee is charged with the following:

  • Providing expertise on current sexual misconduct education, awareness and training practices and to help the School continually evaluate the effectiveness of current programming
  • Helping to identify the types of relationships, residential realities or patterns of behavior unique to a boarding school environment that call for particular awareness of healthy boundaries in order to avoid sexual misconduct
  • Providing historical context and experience with issues of sexual misconduct on campus and to understand and highlight areas of cultural change that could positively or negatively influence the potential for sexual misconduct. As part of this, brainstorm productive ways to incorporate the school's history of sexual abuse into our programming to model transparency, give voice to survivors, and raise moral consciousness around our need to be upstanders within our community and beyond
  • Working with the Office of Communications to create a multifaceted approach to effectively communicate and build confidence in ongoing training, services and support for the prevention of sexual misconduct at Hotchkiss

Read more about the committee or submit questions or feedback here.

The Hotchkiss School takes seriously its commitment to student safety and well-being

We look to engage our students throughout the year in continual, developmentally appropriate discussions about sound decision-making, sexual health and healthy relationships, and creating an environment of safety and respect. These discussions include creating a full understanding of what constitutes affirmative consent, sexual misconduct and assault, the consequences of such actions, and ways for students to get help and support.

Hotchkiss also has in place numerous policies and programs designed to ensure student safety and well-being that were developed and implemented in consultation with independent professionals and reviewed by third-party experts. In addition, in 2018-19 we engaged RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) to undertake a comprehensive review of the School’s sexual misconduct education and response mechanisms, including existing policies, protocols, and trainings. Click here to read a summary of the RAINN audit.   

To offer feedback or ask questions, please contact Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Coordinator Christy Cooper or Associate Head of School and Dean of Faculty Merrilee Mardon.

Preventing and Responding to Sexual Misconduct

Independent Investigation

In June 2016, we retained a third party to conduct an investigation into reports of sexual misconduct by members of the faculty or staff that occurred at any time in the School’s history. Based on feedback from the alumni community, we retained the law firm of Locke Lord to take over the investigation and build upon the considerable work that had been done to date. The investigation was wholly independent and concluded with the release of a public report on August 17, 2018. 

The independent investigation was led by a Boston-based partner, Allison O’Neil, who has substantial experience in sexual abuse investigations. Ms. O’Neill interviewed more than 150 people and had access to School files, records, and personnel to support her investigation. In addition, she had access to the files of the prior investigator.

Should any other alumni wish to come forward with an additional report of abuse by an adult member of the Hotchkiss community, we have asked that Ms. O'Neil be available to receive any such report. Ms. O'Neil can be reached by telephone at (617) 239-0729 or by email at

read the Locke Lord report here  

Counseling Support for Alumni Survivors

Hotchkiss has partnered with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) to assist alumni desiring financial assistance and reimbursement for current and/or past therapy costs related to sexual misconduct during their time at the School. Specifically, Hotchkiss will assist alumni with:

  • Current therapy costs: Hotchkiss will reimburse current weekly therapy sessions of up to 90 minutes in length for any treatment recommended by a licensed, qualified mental health professional so long as that treatment appears on RAINN’s list of approved treatment modalities.
  • Past therapy costs: Hotchkiss will reimburse up to $10,000 of past therapy costs for previous therapy sessions of up to 90 minutes in length for any treatment recommended by a licensed, qualified mental health professional so long as that treatment appears on RAINN’s list of approved treatment modalities.

If you have any questions about whether a treatment is approved by RAINN, please contact RAINN directly at the Hotchkiss-specific hot line at (866) 827-4029. Details on how to receive payments for current and/or historic therapy costs will be provided to you by a third-party claims administrator following completion of the intake process with RAINN.

Immediate crisis intervention, information, and resources are available 24/7 through RAINN at (800) 656-4673 or RAINN can also provide referrals for support in your area.

Please note that all inquiries and funding requests are anonymous to Hotchkiss.

Further details are provided in an FAQ, which can be accessed here.

Education about Healthy Relationships and Sexual Misconduct


Our community regulations and expectations of conduct are updated and outlined in the Almanac. These are regularly reviewed with students in advisory meetings and in Class Meetings. While we encourage the postponement of sexual intimacy, we believe it's essential to talk about Connecticut state law regarding the age of consent and Hotchkiss's expectations regarding consent and sexual misconduct.

If a student is a victim of sexual assault or if a student is unsure if what they experienced was sexual assault, they should contact Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Coordinator Christy Cooper (860-435-3189), Associate Head of School Merrilee Mardon (860-435-3185), or call or visit the Health Center (860-435-3226).

To visit the Campus Safety and Security page, click here.