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D.C. private school to launch sexual misconduct investigation after learning of ‘firsthand accounts’

St. Albans School is launching a sexual misconduct investigation after a man who taught at the school in the 1980s was implicated in a sexual abuse scandal at another school.
St. Albans School is launching a sexual misconduct investigation after a man who taught at the school in the 1980s was implicated in a sexual abuse scandal at another school. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

A D.C. private school is launching a sexual misconduct investigation, saying discussions spurred by a former teacher implicated in abuse at another school revealed accounts of misconduct from years ago among its own teachers.

St. Albans School in Northwest Washington announced in a letter to the school community this week that it will launch the investigation after “firsthand accounts of inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct by former St. Albans teachers.” The letter indicated there is no evidence of recent misconduct at the prestigious all-boys school.

In August, The Washington Post reported allegations that teacher Vaughn Keith sexually abused a student at Key School, in Annapolis, in the 1970s and was fired for alleged sexual misconduct. Keith went on to teach Latin and classical history at St. Albans for six years in the 1980s. He died of complications from AIDS in 1990 at age 40.

Former students allege decades-old sexual abuse at Maryland private school

Last week, a report commissioned by Key School corroborated several allegations against Keith, quoting a woman who said she was sexually abused by him while she was a student and he was a teacher. The report noted Keith was “let go” after a parent saw him and the student “holding hands in downtown Annapolis.”

The Key report quoted another woman who said she was sexually abused by Keith as a student, after he was fired.

In a statement Tuesday, St. Albans said its independent review was spurred by Keith’s time as a teacher at the school and “conversations with some alumni” that occurred after the Key School allegations surfaced.

Robert Musslewhite, governing board chair at St. Albans, and Jason F. Robinson, the school’s headmaster, made the announcement in the letter Monday that St. Albans would launch a sexual misconduct investigation of its own.

The letter said the school was not aware of inappropriate behavior involving Keith at St. Albans, adding that there “is no evidence that any current teacher has behaved in ways that fall short of our professional expectations.” However, the school has “a complex history with noble but imperfectly realized ideals,” the letter said.

“At our best, we have given our students an experience that reflects the highest principles of our mission,” the letter said. “But in the months since August, I have also heard about past incidents when we seem to have fallen short of the school we aspire to be.”

School officials wouldn’t discuss other details about what triggered the investigation.

St. Albans retained New York law firm Debevoise & Plimpton “to investigate any allegation of past adult-student sexual misconduct,” the letter said. The firm didn’t respond to requests for comment.

In response to a request from The Post seeking any previous reports of abuse, D.C. police required that a request be submitted through the Freedom of Information Act.

It’s not the first time St. Albans has dealt with allegations of misconduct.

Accounts of ‘unwanted sexual advances’ and other incidents roil two private schools

In 2014, students at the all-girls National Cathedral School, which has co-ed classes and extracurricular activities with St. Albans, created an online document that shared accounts of “unwanted sexual advances at parties” and “inappropriate sexual comments,” according to a letter sent home to parents at the time.

St. Albans was founded in 1909 and has 575 male students from grades four through 12 on the grounds of Washington National Cathedral. According to its website, the school’s admissions policy indicates that students are assessed only on their merits, with no regard to a family’s financial resources.

Tuition for the current academic year ranges from about $45,000 to $65,000. St. Albans granted more than $4.5 million in scholarships during the 2017-2018 school year.

Report details ‘toxic culture’ of sexual abuse decades ago at Md. private school

Sexist slurs and coded insults: St. Albans School 2015 yearbook stirred outrage

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