Man Suing Mass. Prep School Over Sexual Abuse Claims - NECN

Man Suing Mass. Prep School Over Sexual Abuse Claims



    Man suing Mass. prep school over sexual abuse claims

    A 34-year-old man says a former female teacher sexually abused him for years, and school officials turned a blind eye (Published Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014)

    (NECN: Ally Donnelly, Boston) - A 34-year-old man is suing a prestigious prep school in Massachusetts, saying that a former female teacher sexually abused him for years and school officials did nothing about it.

    He says he's been consumed by shame and guilt for decades, and adds he only came forward after hearing abuse allegations on the news and starting therapy.

    "It's traumatizing, you don't know who to trust," said the man, who asked us to conceal his identity.

    The 34 year old says he was sexually abused by a female teacher when he was a student at the elite Andover, Mass. preparatory school, the Pike School, back in the 1990s.

    "There was a lot of attention," he said. "A lot of 'this is special and no one would understand it.' And I'm taking great risk to make it happen.'"

    From the office of his Boston lawyer, the man told us The Pike School's history and Latin teacher at the time, Judith Elefante -- who used to go by Judith Chapelle -- groomed the emotionally fragile scholarship student for years, giving him gifts and sending him cards and letters signed with my Love and Judy and MYB -- "miss ya babe". Then, when he was in ninth grade, he says she brought him back to her Andover home where they had intercourse. At the time, he thought of her as his secret girlfriend. He was 15, she was 50.

    "I think she's a monster," he said. "Because this shouldn't happen to anybody."

    Seeking a civil settlement, the man is suing Elefante, the Pike School and several members of its staff, as well as the Groton School in Groton, Mass. When he graduated from Pike, the man went on to Groton as a boarding student and says Elefante often went to his dorm room and sexually abused him. We asked how she was able to get into his dorm and the man says she had unfettered access.

    "She just showed up, parked the car," he said. "And no one questions her."

    Calls to Groton haven't been returned and the Pike School sent us a copy of a letter they recently sent to parents and alumni. School officials say they first learned of the abuse allegations two years ago and that Elefante told them that while the man was a student she gave him advice and support, but: "She confirmed that their relationship continued after he left Pike and that, in fact, the relationship developed into a sexual one."

    The man's attorney, Carmen Durso, questioned, "Why, after you learned about Elefante, did you wait two years to make the information public?"

    The school fired Elefante in 2011. She's now reportedly retired and living in Newburyport. No one came to the door at her home, but a friend who didn't want us to identify her called her a wonderful person.

    "She's just the nicest woman I've ever met, I just adore her," the man said.

    The man says the abuse continued until he was 19 -- that Elefante, who had often threatened to kill herself if she left him -- became less interested as the man became an adult. Attorney Durso says another man has now contacted him saying he was victimized by Elephante as well, in the 1980s. Elefante's lawyer, reached in her Boston office, had no comment.