BOSTON (WPRI) — Former students of a Rhode Island private school came forward Tuesday with allegations of sexual abuse by school employees.
At a news conference in Boston, attorneys said 40 men and women claim they were molested at St. George’s School in Middletown in the 1970s and 1980s.
The alleged victims also accuse administrators of covering up the incidents and are now calling for an independent investigation at the school.
An internal investigation conducted by the school, which WPRI.com reported last month, found that more than two dozen students were sexually abused by school employees. Two of the alleged perpetrators include a current Episcopal priest & an assistant school choir director in New York City.
“It was absolutely horrible,” Katie Wales Lovkay said through tears as she shared her story Tuesday.
Lovkay said she was assaulted repeatedly by Al Gibbs, an athletic trainer at the school from 1973 until 1980.
Anne Scott claimed she too was Gibbs’ victim and filed a lawsuit years ago, but said she dropped it after the school forced her to sign a gag order, which expired in 2015.
“When you’re raped, your voice is stolen, your soul is taken away. and all that a gag order does is preserve the institution’s reputation and seal the trauma inside,” she said.
Gibbs died in 1996.
Attorneys said seven of the alleged perpetrators worked at the school while four others were students.
“I was publicly raped while at St. George’s as a freshman in 1978 by a fellow student with at least five witnesses,” Harry Groome recalled.
Groome is calling for the current head of the school, Eric Peterson, to step down, saying the school “cannot thrive until we flush out the bad.”
Saint George’s said in a statement they were “truly, deeply sorry,” and announced plans for a support group and therapy funds for the victims.
The Rt. Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely, Bishop of Rhode Island and ex officio member of the St. George’s board, sent a letter to clergy Tuesday discussing the diocese’s role in the matter.
The attorneys said prosecution may be possible for some of the alleged perpetrators as there is no statute of limitations for rape in Rhode Island.
Attorneys believe more alleged victims will come forward. Anyone with information is asked to call Rhode Island State Police Capt. Matthew Moynihan (401) 444-1012.