Former students who claim they were sexually abused at a Rhode Island Boarding school are asking those abusers to be held accountable, along with school officials, who they say covered up the abuse for years.
The alleged abuse happened in the 70's and 80's at St. George's School, in Middletown, Rhode Island.
Those abused are saying they want to have criminal charges filed, and because there is no statute of limitations in Rhode Island, their wishes may be granted.
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There are 40 formers students who have come forward saying they were abused by staff or older students. However, school officials, who have admitted they have conducted an internal investigation and found serious abuse, say they found 26, not 40 former students, who were abused.
Katie Wales Lovkay reminded herself to breathe before she shared her story of alleged sexual abuse with a roomful of reporters. She says nearly four decades ago -- as a student at the elite Episcopal prep school St. George's in Middletown Rhode Island -- she was repeatedly molested by a male athletic trainer.
The school has named only one alleged perpetrator in the report. The report stated former athletic trainer Al Gibbs, who died in 1996, was fired in 1980 for 'inappropriate activity" after a senior allegedly found him taking pictures of a naked female student. Lovkay says he took pictures of her too and shared them with male students.
A statement from St. George's School was released January 5, saying, "St. George's School deeply apologizes for the harm done to alumni by former employees and former students of the school. We also apologize that the way in which the school addressed these incidents has served to compound this harm."
The statement also mentions that the school has authorized reimbursement for counseling for survivors and a third party investigation has been commissioned to learn about "any and every instance of sexual abuse."
Rhode Island State Police have also launched their own investigation.
Below is the full official statement from St. George's School.
St. George’s School deeply apologizes for the harm done to alumni by former employees and former students of the school. We also apologize that the way in which the school addressed these incidents has served to compound this harm.
We recognize the long-lasting impact of sexual abuse and are dedicated to working with survivors to aid them in healing from its painful aftermath. To that end, the School has authorized reimbursement for counseling for survivors. There is no set limit on the number of counseling sessions available to survivors, and reimbursement will be made on a renewable basis.
We also commissioned a third party investigation to learn about any and every instance of sexual abuse. Over the course of eight months, more than 100 individuals were interviewed. We have made a public report on this investigation but the work remains ongoing. We welcome the opportunity to hear from anyone who has additional information to share. We are also cooperating with law enforcement and state child protection agencies.
St. George's School is committed to establishing and adhering to best practices and policies to ensure a safe and productive learning environment for all of its students. All employees undergo criminal background checks, reference checks, and careful screening throughout the hiring process. In recent years, the School has required all employees to participate in training on boundary issues and mandatory reporting requirements, and students have been engaged in a series of conversations concerning sexual assault. Finally, the policy manuals for faculty, staff and students undergo regular comprehensive reviews to update and enhance our policies and language related to sexual abuse prevention and reporting.