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Abuse Charge at Exclusive Boarding School Stirs Inquiry
By Jess Bidgood
BOSTON — Prosecutors plan to investigate possible sexual abuse at Deerfield Academy, an exclusive private boarding school in western Massachusetts, after a report released by the school detailing its own investigation into allegations against two faculty members who taught there for decades.
“We intend to independently investigate whether these abuse allegations were criminal in nature and, if so, whether or not the statute of limitations or other factors would preclude criminal prosecution,” David E. Sullivan, the district attorney for Hampshire and Franklin Counties, said.
The school’s report, which was released Saturday in a letter to the Deerfield community, said investigators had confirmed that Peter Hindle, a mathematics teacher who worked at Deerfield from 1956 to 2000, engaged in sexual conduct with at least one student. The investigation also found evidence that Bryce Lambert, who taught English at the school until 1990 and is now dead, engaged in sexual conduct with two students, and that investigators received additional reports of sexual misconduct that they could not corroborate.
“The investigation also led us to the conclusion that the Deerfield administration in the 1980s could have — in the case of Peter Hindle — moved more forcefully to address reports of inappropriate behavior,” read the letter, signed by Philip Greer, the president of the school’s board of trustees, and Margarita Curtis, who is the head of the school.
“Given Mr. Hindle’s denials and highly revered status, the administration relied solely on verbal and written warnings,” said the letter. “By any measure, Mr. Hindle’s behavior represents an outrageous violation,” read the report, which said Mr. Hindle lied to investigators, “raising serious questions about whether his admission was too limited.”