Prep school says at least 2 students were molested by former teacher

11 October 2016 - 15:43, by , in Pingry Survivors' News, 2 comments

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A Morristown prep school has alerted alumni that at least two former students now say they were molested by Thad Alton, a teacher who was later convicted of sexual assault on young boys.

The Peck School hired an outside firm to investigate Alton’s time at the school, in the late 1970s, to see if he molested students. The move was prompted by word that several former students of Alton’s previous employer, The Pingry School, were alleging abuse by the then-popular Scoutmaster and teacher.

Peck told alumni that Alton had nothing but “positive job references” when he was hired, fresh from six years at the Short Hills Country Day School, which merged with Pingry.

“Records related to Alton’s hiring did not contain any signs of previous issues or concerns,” stated the email, signed by Andrew C. Delinksy, Head of School, and Edward J. Foley IV, president of the board of trustees.

Peck did not provide details about the two men who came forward, other than to say it involved “inappropriate sexual touching or sexual assault.” Alton was at Peck for the 1978-79 school year, when he taught English, ran a sixth-grade homeroom, and coached soccer.

Peck officials also conceded that since investigators were limited in their knowledge to which students from that era were willing to come forward, there may be other boys who were victims of Alton.

His Pingry accusers say Alton turned Boy Scout camping trips into an opportunity for juvenile sex games that groomed his victims for later one-on-one abuse.

Eventually Alton was charged in Essex County with three counts of lewdness for playing strip poker and engaging in mutual masturbation with 12-year-old boys. He left the state in 1980, landing in the Adirondack region of New York State, where his family had summered. It was there he was charged with more serious crimes against boys in 1990, and sentenced to five years in prison.

He’s now 70, and lives in Lower Manhattan. He could not be immediately reached for comment. He is a lifetime registered sex offender, but has not been charged with any crime since his release in 1995.

His Morristown attorney, Marcy McMann, had no comment about the newest allegations.

The timing of events points to Alton moving from Pingry to Peck under a cloud: The strip poker incident took place in April of 1978, while he was still teaching at Pingry. Charges weren’t filed until the summer of 1979, after he had completed his first year at the Peck School. When Peck learned of the charges, school officials immediately fired Alton. The email to alumni indicates it does not appear Peck provided Alton with any letter of reference.

In the Peck email, Delinsky and Foley say that while investigators learned many of the children had heard rumors about Alton, none of the adults had. Nor had any adult been told of any problem with Alton at the school.

They urged anyone with knowledge to contact Helen Cantwell of the firm of Debevoise & Plimpton, via or (212) 909-6312.

2 Comments on "Prep school says at least 2 students were molested by former teacher"

Sickened - 11 October 2016 Reply

Two children were sexually molested by Thad Alton at The Peck School. Pingry is directly responsible for that. When Alton was caught molesting boys at Pingry, they sent him packing... nine miles down the road to Morristown, with a solid recommendation. They knew what he had done. They knew what he was capable of. They didn't care. These two Peck kids should be added to the suit against Pingry. I am an alum of the school. Is the "honor code" still a thing there? What a crock.

Jim Van Buskirk - 28 March 2017 Reply

I graduated from pingry in 1970. Interesting point you make about the honor code. One time while taking a blue book math test our teacher was spying on us from an outside corner window. Pretty creepy seemed wrong. I suppose the honor bit was just for the students and optional for those in charge.

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