State police withhold prep school abuse investigation report

Police determined the report isn't releasable under state law

FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2016 file photo, buildings at St. George's School sit on a hill in Middletown, R.I. Rhode Island state police won’t release their report into dozens of sexual abuse allegations at a prestigious boarding school because the matter is being investigated in other states. The investigation into allegations of abuse of students at St. George’s School concluded in June with no criminal charges. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island state police won’t release their report into dozens of sexual abuse allegations at a prestigious boarding school because the matter is being investigated in other states.

The investigation into allegations of abuse of students at St. George’s School concluded in June with no criminal charges.

Police denied a request by The Associated Press for the investigative report on Tuesday. The denial said police determined the report isn’t releasable under state law because of ongoing investigations in other state jurisdictions.

Col. Steven O’Donnell said state police turned over information they had to agencies in Massachusetts and North Carolina. He couldn’t immediately say which agencies are conducting the investigations in those states.

Attorney Eric MacLeish, who represents some of the victims, also was aware of potential criminal cases that could be brought in Massachusetts and North Carolina. He said those cases involve former St. George’s staff members.

Victim Anne Scott said she was disappointed a detailed accounting of police efforts in Rhode Island won’t be made public.

“I’m hopeful if there’s an active investigation in other jurisdictions,” she said on Tuesday. “I understand the reason for the denial and am hopeful that other statutes of limitations in other jurisdictions might be more conducive to charges being brought.”

Scott was raped repeatedly by an athletic trainer at the school in the 1970s, when she was a teenager. She now leads a group advocating for abuse survivors, called SGS for Healing.

Police looked at allegations of abuse of students at St. George’s School by seven former faculty members, one current employee and three former students and at allegations that current and prior administrators didn’t report abuse to the proper authorities.

Police and the attorney general’s office determined they cannot proceed with criminal charges for a variety of reasons, including the statute of limitations and changes in the laws since some of the abuse occurred, as far back as the 1970s. The most recent allegation of abuse police investigated was in 2005, they said.

MacLeish said the statute of limitations is not an issue in the Massachusetts and North Carolina cases because the criminal laws differ from those in Rhode Island.

St. George’s, an Episcopal school located in Middletown, near Newport, has apologized for how it handled abuse cases. It has said it “cooperated fully” with the state police investigation.

Some alumni have accused St. George’s leaders of keeping abuse quiet to protect the reputation of the school, which was founded in 1896 and counts among its graduates poet Ogden Nash, former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean and former Republican Connecticut U.S. Sen. Prescott Bush, the father and grandfather of the Bush presidents.

The $58,000-per-year school has about 370 high school-age students and an endowment of more than $140 million.

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