Article from NJ.com
Thad “Ted” P. Alton, Jr. worked at Pingry or an earlier day school that eventually merged with Pingry from 1972 through 1978. After that, he was employed from 1978 to 1979 at the Peck School in Morristown.
After relocating to upstate New York, he was convicted in 1990 of sexual abuse of two minor boys. He served five years in prison.
A 2005 court document related to the N.Y. conviction refers to Alton’s previous conviction in New Jersey, for which he served a suspended sentence and probation.
The 1980 convictions stem from incidents which took place when Alton “was employed as a teacher and assistant head master at a boys school known as the Pingrey (sic) School,” states the document.
The document details the behaviors that resulted in three counts of public lewdness and three counts of impairing the morals of a minor.
It says Alton admitted to “playing games of strip poker as well as individual and mutual masturbation with three 12-year-old boys.”
Alton coached soccer at Pingry and was also Scoutmaster to a Boy Scout troop made up of Pingry students, according to a law firm representing several alleged victims.
Earlier this week, Pingry, a private school based in Basking Ridge, informed its alumni that it had recently learned from a few of its alumni about alleged sexual abuse at the hands of Alton.
The letter from Pingry comes as a Oregon law firm that specializes in suing schools and youth organizations for their negligent handling of sexual abuse announced it has been investigating Alton’s tenure at Pingry for over a year.
“In total, we’re aware of as many as a dozen victims, and we expect there could be many more,” said Peter Janci, an attorney with a national reputation for courtroom victories against the Boy Scouts of America. The firm is currently representing four men who say they were abused as boys while at Pingry, he said.
The Pingry administration said yesterday it was unaware of the 1980 conviction.
“I’m afraid such a conviction is news to us, but this is information we will pass on to both law enforcement and the investigation firm we’ve engaged so that they can confirm the facts as part of the ongoing investigation,” wrote school spokeswoman Dale Seabury in an email late Thursday.
“It wasn’t until recently that the school’s current administration knew anything about this situation in the ’70s, which prompted us to act,” she stated.
Alton, 69, could not be reached for comment.
He lives in Manhattan, in a Financial District apartment that doubles as his office. A woman who identified herself as and employee answered the door Wednesday and said he is self-employed in field of educational software.
Also Thursday, a second private school, the Peck School in Morristown, confirmed Alton’s brief employment there in 1978-79 and said it had launched its own internal investigation.
“We are heartbroken to think that his presence on our campus might have caused trauma to any of our students,” the Peck school said in a statement Thursday. “To underscore our commitment to the lifelong well-being of our alumni, we have hired Debevoise & Plimpton, a law firm with extensive experience in these types of matters. They are conducting an independent review of Mr. Alton’s tenure at our school.”
The lawyer representing the alleged Pingry victims said he found the school’s letter to its alumni encouraging.
“We hope the school is doing the right thing for the right reasons,” he said. “Once the whole truth about Ted Alton and the Pingry School comes out, that allows the victims and the community to move forward,” Janci said.
By 1981, Alton had relocated to the Adirondacks, where he worked at Clarkson University in Potsdam. His off-campus job involved outreach to the business community.
In 1990, he was convicted in of the sexual abuse of two local teenage boys in New York and served five years in prison.
NOTE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the locations at which Alton taught.