Article from Basking Ridge Patch
The school denies they had any knowledge of the claims against a former educator accused of sexual abuse.
Basking Ridge, NJ — Former Pingry School officials knew of sexual abuse allegations made against an educator who this week was accused of similar crimes against several alumni students, an attorney representing the victims said.
The educator at the focus of the investigation is Thad “Ted” P. Alton Jr., a former educator at the elite preparatory school working at both of Pingry’s locations in Basking Ridge and Short Hills.
“Employees at Pingry at time of Alton’s employment were aware of some allegations of sexual abuse by Alton,” said Peter Janci of Crew Janci LLP, the law firm hired by four of the alleged victims.
However Pingry School officials deny any knowledge — and say they found out about the allegations through the media.
“It wasn’t until recently that the school’s current administration knew anything about this upsetting situation in the 1970s, which prompted us to act,” Dale Seabury, the school’s communications director, said in a statement to Patch.
“We heard through the media Thursday evening about a possible conviction in 1980, it was news to us. This is information that we will pass on to both law enforcement and the investigative firm we’ve engaged so that they can confirm the facts as part of the ongoing investigation.”
On Monday, allegations made by the former alumni of Pingry were made public when the school sent out a letter to families about the situation. The school said it is launching an investigation into these claims.
Meanwhile, the victims’ law firm is conducting its own investigation. He said he has not had any communication with the current school leadership at this point.
“We have been investigating for many months now, close to a year,” Janci said. “And our investigation on behalf of the clients is looking into what happened with Ted Alton, what organizations knew and what was done in response.”
Janci said his clients were abused between 1973 and sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s.
“Our investigation thus far is focused largely on that time period,” Janci said. “Alton, like many prolific sexual predators, was involved in a number of youth service organizations.”
Alton was an employee of Short Hills Country Day School from 1972 to 1974 and, following the merger of the two institutions, an employee of The Pingry School from 1974 to 1978.
He was then employed from 1978 to 1979 at the Peck School in Morristown, according to nj.com.
During his time at the school he served as an assistant principal and guidance counselor and also taught sixth grade and social studies. He also served as a soccer coach at the school and scoutmaster for a boy scouts troop, which consisted of students from the school, Janci confirmed.
Alton had been convicted twice in the past for sex-related charges, according to reports.
In 1980, while Alton was working as a teacher and assistant head master at a Pingry he was convicted of three counts of public lewdness and three counts of impairing the morals of a minor, according to nj.com.
Alton admitted to “playing games of strip poker as well as individual and mutual masturbation with three 12-year-old boys,” according to nj.com.
Alton was convicted again in 1990 after he moved to upstate New York and was working at a university there by 1981. He was convicted in New York State of two counts of sexual abuse of minors. Alton was incarcerated until 1995.
Alton, now 69, is listed on the New York State Sex Offender Registry with an address in Manhattan.