The number of alleged perpetrators and the duration of abuse, taking place over the course of more than three decades, shocked many with connections to the prominent schools, which share a campus on Wisconsin Avenue in Northwest Washington. Beauvoir is the coeducational elementary school; its female graduates have priority admission at the National Cathedral School, and its male graduates go on to St. Albans.
In a letter to the school community sent Thursday, officials said that no allegations involving current employees had surfaced but that the investigation found “incidents from our past that are deeply troubling,” involving “16 former adult members of our community.”
“We take responsibility and offer a sincere apology for the abuse of trust and betrayal of innocence caused by former adult members of this community in decades past,” the letter said.
The letter added that “for all adults credibly accused of sexual misconduct against students, we have made reports to law enforcement and to employers where the adults might have had access to children.”
The revelations come during a period of societal reckoning with sexual abuse within institutions, including the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Boy Scouts.
Stewart Patrick, 54, a former St. Albans student body president, told investigators that he was abused by a Washington National Cathedral teacher the summer before he entered eighth grade in 1978. Patrick, a Rhodes scholar who is now a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the abuse occurred at the teacher’s apartment in suburban Maryland. His allegations were detailed in the report, though he was not named.
“Close has the imagery of protecting those on the close from some of the dangers society might present,” he said, referring to the area where the schools and the National Cathedral are clustered. “It’s pretty clear from this story that the serpents were inside the close.”
He said he was impressed by the breadth of the report and shocked by the number of alleged perpetrators.
The investigation was initiated by St. Albans in February after The Washington Post reported allegations that former teacher Vaughn Keith had sexually abused a student at another private school 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 and died of complications of AIDS in 1990 at age 40.
Beauvoir and Washington National Cathedral schools joined St. Albans in the investigation in March “when the investigators found that some of the incidents involved adults and students from different Close institutions,” according to a summary of the investigation, which was conducted by the New York law firm Debevoise & Plimpton.
The law firm declined to comment on the investigation.
The summary said investigators interviewed more than 200 people and reviewed more than 40,000 documents but received no allegations about Keith.
However, they corroborated allegations against nine former St. Albans employees, two former Beauvoir employees, one former National Cathedral School employee and four adults associated with the cathedral, the summary said.
According to the summary, the investigators used the terms “sexual misconduct” or “sexual abuse” to refer to a wide range of behaviors involving physical contact or other conduct that was sexual in nature and caused physical or emotional harm.
The report also detailed allegations of “boundary-crossing behavior” by teachers, such as taking showers with students after sports or making inappropriate sexual comments.
In the past, the institutions did not report sexual misconduct to police “on a routine basis”and did not always fire faculty members accused of misconduct, the summary said. But that was consistent with D.C. law at the time, the law firm wrote. Cathedral officials said they were unaware of many of the allegations before the investigation.
The behavior described in the summary varied in severity from massage to rape, and the response of the institutions changed over time.
In 1983, the parents of an incoming ninth-grader at National Cathedral School reported that a St. Albans teacher had kissed the child at an off-campus picnic. After the teacher admitted the contact, he was placed on probation, required to receive counseling and told to avoid being alone with students, the summary said.
The next year, the student told her parents that the teacher had actually raped her at the picnic, and her parents insisted that he leave the school. After the teacher, who denied the allegation, was forced to resign, the faculty was told he left the school for “personal reasons.” The Washington Post is not identifying the teacher, who is deceased, because his family was not immediately available for comment.
In an interview, the father of the student who said she was raped said that “Debevoise did a very good job.”
“It’s difficult to feel satisfied about anything,” said the father, who asked to remain anonymous to protect his daughter’s identity. “I’m not disappointed in the report. I’m not disappointed in what they’re trying to do. I believe there’s an honest effort at transparency.”
In the letter to the school community, the institutions “confirmed we have strong protections in place today” but also would be adopting Debevoise’s recommendations “on ways the Close institutions could further strengthen or improve our child safety protocol.”
St. Albans has educated generations of Washington’s elite, including former vice president Al Gore, former senator John Warner, and Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), who is running for president. Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser, attended National Cathedral School, as did Kara Kennedy, the daughter of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
The cathedral routinely hosts national prayer services and state funerals, including those of former presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald R. Ford and, more recently, Sen. John McCain. Tuition for the current academic year at St. Albans ranges from about $45,000 to $65,000, and the school granted more than $4.5 million in scholarships during the 2017-2018 academic year.
In a separate letter released Thursday, the Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, said she was “deeply troubled by the investigation’s findings about sexual misconduct from decades past.”
“In our faith tradition, when we welcome children into the community, we promise to cherish them and protect them,” she wrote. “For the victims and survivors of past abuse and your families, this promise was broken. I apologize for that failing and ask your forgiveness.”
Again and again, the summary notes that in the past, teachers accused of crossing boundaries or sexual misconduct faced few or no consequences.
One teacher still living who was accused of exposing himself to a student and showing another an “erotic magazine” in the 1970s “admitted to having engaged in some of the alleged misconduct,” the summary said.
The teacher left St. Albans in 1976 “after realizing he had a problem that caused him to behave inappropriately with boys,” the summary said. “He also expressed his deep regret for any harm he caused.”
The teacher got a positive reference from the school after his departure, although a note was placed in his file, the summary said. The Post is not naming the teacher because he could not be reached.
In another case, the National Cathedral School recommended one teacher for graduate school after “a previously known and addressed incident of sexual misconduct” with an upper school student in 1988, the summary said. Such a letter would not have been provided under the school’s current policies, the law firm wrote.
Some allegations date back a half-century.
The summary noted six students’ allegations against one man who taught at St. Albans from 1950 until 1970 and ran a Vermont summer camp for boys and reportedly abused children at both locations. The Washington Post is not naming the teacher, who is deceased, because his family could not be reached.
Investigators concluded that the teacher faced charges related to alleged sexual abuse at the summer camp in Vermont in the late 1970s but found no evidence he was convicted.
He voluntarily resigned from St. Albans in 1970 on good terms, said investigators, who concluded that administrators likely did not know about his conduct at the time.
But they found the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation, which oversees the cathedral and three schools, entered into settlement agreements in 2009 and 2010 with two students who said they were abused by the teacher in the 1950s.
The summary also said six former teachers or volunteers are known to have committed or been charged with sex crimes related to behavior at schools associated with the cathedral or elsewhere. They include Eric Toth, who was found to have photographed children using a bathroom at Beauvoir in 2008. After fleeing the country and ending up on the FBI’s most-wanted list, Toth pleaded guilty to child pornography.
In another recent case of misconduct that investigators said was beyond their purview, teacher Paul Wilson was fired in 2015 after St. Albans learned he was under investigation by police. He pleaded guilty to a child pornography charge in Virginia in April after downloading child pornography from the Internet while living in a school dorm in 2013, according to a statement from the Justice Department.
The Rev. Mark H. Mullin, an Episcopal priest and headmaster of St. Albans from 1977 to 1997 who wrote a book about the school, declined to comment on the investigation.
“I had a long talk with the people doing the report, tried to answer all the questions,” he said. “Anything I have to say should be in the report . . . I don’t know when I’ll see it.”
Ian Shapira contributed to this report.