Letter to parents details molestation allegations against former Gordon School teacher

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I (WPRI) — The Gordon School and police in East Providence are investigating what the school’s administration calls “disturbing allegations raised by several former students” against a former teacher who worked at the private school in the 1970’s.

According to a letter sent to parents Monday, the allegations involved “numerous instances of inappropriate touching and digital rape that occurred on campus and, in two cases, allegations of rape that occurred off campus.”

Head of School Ralph Wales acknowledged in June that the school was looking into several claims.

Wales’ letter named the teacher who taught at Gordon between 1972 and 1977. He is not charged in connection with the allegations and according to Wales, he has been contacted by a school attorney and “denies the allegations.”

Eyewitness News knocked on the door of the teacher’s home but he did not answer.

We are deeply sorry that the school failed to meet its primary obligation to ensure the students’ protection and safety.

The letter indicates “the victims shared that these incidents of molestation were repeatedly reported to the school administration over the course of (the teacher’s) employment at Gordon.”

“However, (the teacher) continued his employment at Gordon until one of the rape victims went to the police at which point the Head of School put (the teacher) on paid leave,” the letter states. “He never returned to work at Gordon although it has been reported that he may have taught at other schools after leaving.”

The East Providence Police incident report states Detective Michael Spremulli received information that the teacher worked for Providence city schools after he left Gordon.

But the report indicates the state does not have any records that he was a certified teacher in Rhode Island.

The teacher was on the board of directors for the now defunct Ocean State Theatre Company in Warwick according to the incident report.

Wales said the school hired attorney Neal McNamara after the allegations surfaced, and the revelations include details about a victim who reported the allegations to police in the 70’s.

“One of the victims who reported she was raped by (the teacher) came forward at the time and the allegation was investigated by the East Providence police,” Wales said. “However, it is unclear what the result of the investigation was because the police were not able to locate records from that time period.”

Detective Spremulli is the current lead investigator for the case.

“The investigation is still ongoing and is currently being reviewed,” Spremulli said. “At this time, I can’t comment any further.”

Since June, the school “received additional credible reports of sexual molestation, corroborated by statements from other former students who witnessed or were aware of the abuse, all connected to the same former faculty member,” according to the letter.

Wales credited the alleged victims for providing details about their claims last spring.

“We cannot imagine the emotional pain they have carried with them over the years and are grateful for their willingness to come forward,” Wales wrote in the letter. “Even though these events occurred several decades ago, we are deeply sorry that the school failed to meet its primary obligation to ensure the students’ protection and safety.”

Wales also wrote that the results of the completed police investigation were forwarded to the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office. AG Spokesperson Amy Kempe said the case “is under review.”

Anyone who has additional information regarding the teacher is asked to contact Detective Spremulli.

The letter stated the school revised its “practices to ensure students safety.”

“Concurrent with the investigation, with the guidance of legal counsel, we conducted a full review of our hiring practices and all policies related to reporting suspected instances of sexual misconduct,” the letter said. “This review confirmed that these are up to date and consistent with best practice.”

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.