Dear Members of the Hotchkiss community,
We hope you and your families remain safe and well in these unprecedented times. We write today to update you on an important School matter.
In August 2018, Allison O'Neil of Locke Lord LLP released a report documenting historical sexual misconduct at Hotchkiss. Since this devastating report was communicated, the School has undertaken significant, concrete actions to support victims of the abuse and to ensure that current and future students are safe and protected. In addition, we made the commitment that Ms. O'Neil would remain available to the Hotchkiss community and would continue to investigate any and all reports of sexual abuse perpetrated by adults against students at Hotchkiss.
In keeping with that commitment, Ms. O'Neil and her team have fully investigated allegations that have been reported to her. This process has included conducting interviews and reviewing School archives, records, and personnel files. In order to ensure the integrity of the investigative process, Locke Lord has absolute authority and discretion in conducting its investigations. This includes establishing the criteria for evaluating the credibility of the allegations and determining which individuals to name publicly.
Yesterday, the Board of Trustees received from Allison O'Neil and Locke Lord a supplement to the August 2018 report. With ongoing sadness, regret, and anger for what members of our community have endured, we write to share it with you today. You will find this supplemental report posted here and also on the webpage dedicated to the School's actions to address historical sexual misconduct. The supplement includes the naming of an individual faculty member who was not referenced in the original report. As was the case in 2018, these allegations relate to abuse dating back decades. The original report from August 2018 is also available on this site.
As leaders of this School, we want to express our deepest apologies for the wrongs of the past. Even as we know that words offer little in the way of consolation to survivors or to the Hotchkiss community more broadly, please know how sorry we are for the suffering that has taken place. Our commitment, now and for the foreseeable future, is to support survivors in healing and ensure, to the best of our ability, that no child at this School faces the same pain in the future.
In 2018, an audit conducted by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) of our sexual misconduct program found that Hotchkiss had a strong foundation in policies related to sexual misconduct, harassment, and discrimination. Over the five years preceding the audit, RAINN determined that the School had revised policies, protocols, and training; built infrastructure to handle investigations into reported incidents; and conducted external assessments of then-current and historic challenges.
Since the publication of the initial Locke Lord report and RAINN's audit, we have established the new role of sexual misconduct prevention and response coordinator, which is held by Christy Cooper P'08,'11. In this role, Ms. Cooper is responsible for providing oversight of sexual misconduct and prevention programming; overseeing education and training strategies for employees and students; and ensuring that all reports of sexual misconduct are handled in accordance with the School's policies.
In addition, we formed an Advisory Committee for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Education comprising alumni, Board members, faculty, and sexual abuse and prevention experts. This Advisory Committee reports directly to the Board and is charged with providing expertise on current sexual misconduct education and practices; helping to identify patterns of behavior that may be unique to a boarding school environment in order to avoid sexual misconduct; providing historical context with respect to issues of sexual misconduct on campus; and actively communicating on the School's work and progress.
You can read more about our focus on preventing sexual misconduct on our website. A detailed explanation of every employee's responsibility to keep students safe and protected, including the Code of Ethical Conduct and information about the Community Conduct Council, can be found in the Community Regulations section of the Almanac.
Our commitment to supporting survivors remains steadfast. Through RAINN, we continue to make financial assistance available to alumni for current therapy related to sexual misconduct to which they were subjected during their time at Hotchkiss. To access financial assistance for current and/or past therapy costs, please contact RAINN directly at the Hotchkiss-specific hotline at (866) 827-4029. The number for alumni who live abroad is (860) 300-3389. More detailed information about therapy referrals and reimbursement is available on the School's website. Please know that all inquiries and funding requests are anonymous and will not be shared with anyone, including anyone at Hotchkiss.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the investigation and all who have engaged with our community to help move the School towards an honest reckoning with its past. Should any other alumni wish to come forward with a report of abuse by an adult member of the Hotchkiss community, Ms. O'Neil remains available. You can reach her by telephone at (617) 239-0729 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elizabeth G. Hines '93 and Robert R. Gould '77
Co-Presidents, Board of Trustees
Craig W. Bradley
Head of School