Article from NJ.com.
It’s a good start – but hardly the final word, and probably not enough to forestall a lawsuit.
That’s how the alleged victims of the decades-old sex abuse scandal at Pingry School view the just-released report commissioned by the school in response to threat of a lawsuit.
The report turned up at least 27 students who say they were molested in the 1970s. In addition, it alleges two additional teachers beyond the original focus of the investigation molested students.
“The report was well done. But it left a lot out,” said a New Jersey businessman who is part of a group of now calling itself the Pingry Survivors. “It left the impression of ‘Poor Pingry. They didn’t know. What could they do?'”
“The report is funded by Pingry, so you have to take it with a grain of salt. But I think it’s a great first step,” said a 50-year-old out-of-state physician who was the first to seek legal advice about the extensive molestation he said he endured as a boy.
NJ Advance Media agreed to withhold the names of the men because they are alleged sexual abuse victims. In one case, the man said he has not yet told his daughters what happened to him when he was nine years old.
Along with making public the 44-page report, Pingry’s headmaster, Nathaniel Conard, and the chair of the board of trustees, Jeffrey Edwards, apologized for the suffering the former students endured.
The report detailed examples of alleged abuse, and quoted nine unnamed teachers who said they observed behavior on the part of their three co-workers that “gave them pause.” However, investigators said the Pingry administration was never notified of those vague concerns.
The rising tally of both possible victims and alleged abusers comes as no surprise to the Oregon attorney whose firm represents 18 Pingry alumni.
Stephen Crew said that based on his firm’s own investigation, he believes there are at least 48 victims of Thad “Ted” Alton, a former teacher who worked at Pingry during the 70s.
“Some victims did not and will not come forward,” Crew said. “And we’re not going to ‘out’ them, or force them, or contact them.”
Alton worked at the prep’s school’s Short Hills campus for younger students from 1972 through 1978. He then taught for a year at The Peck School in Morristown before word of a strip poker game he played with his Pingry-based Boy Scout troop reached authorities. He was charged, pleaded guilty, avoided jail time and left the state.
Eventually he relocated to upstate New York, where he was arrested in 1989 for sodomizing a boy in a kayaking group he’d started. He spent four-and-a-half years in prison and is now a registered sex offender living in Manhattan’s Financial District. He has declined to comment on any allegations.
Crew, the attorney representing the victims, said his firm was aware of the two other teachers named in the Pingry report, and that some of his clients had been victimized by them as well as by Alton.
One was a longtime shop teacher at the Short Hills campus who the report alleges had sexual contact with three boys. One student told investigators Bruce Bohrer fondled him in class as the children worked on projects while standing at waist-high tables. Bohrer, now retired, could not be reached for a comment. The report said he denied the accusations.
The other teacher mentioned in the report, Antoine “Tony” du Bourg, was a talented but eccentric man who taught both AP Physics as well as many of the school’s music classes for 46 years. He was at Pingry’s upper-level campus in Basking Ridge, which was in a separate location from the school where Alton and Bohrer taught.
Du Bourg died in 2011 at the age of 82. Upon his retirement in 2002, the school’s spring concert was named in his honor. He moved to Rhode Island, where he next taught at a boarding school that has been embroiled in its own headline-grabbing sex scandal.
He had no surviving relatives, and a long-time close friend who also taught music at Pingry declined to comment when contacted.
While the report does not include any claim of sexual assault perpetrated by du Bourg, it does include a student’s memory of seeing du Bourg sharing a bed with a “prepubescent” boy.
However, it mostly details many instances of du Bourg allegedly patting or groping the buttocks of his male students, even to the point of joking about it in front of others.
“He was such an obvious molester, I’m surprised he actually was,” said Sivert Glarum, a former student who is not a part of the Survivors group. “He forced us to call him ‘Uncle Tony.’ ”
Glarum recalled du Bourg would offer to give a student 30 cents to buy a Coke at the student store, but joke the boy had to reach into his front pocket to get the coins.
“I guess as a kid, I rationalized that his behavior was so “open,” that some responsible adult must have checked out the rumors and determined they were false,” he said after reading the report.
The Survivors group has posted its wish that Pingry not only come clean about its responsibilities years ago, but also that it become a resource for abuse prevention.
No lawsuit has been filed yet, and the survivors plan to have a conference call soon to figure out their next step. The law firm they hired, Crew Janci, specializes in suing institutions – churches, schools, and youth groups – for their culpability in overseeing pedophiles.
Any legal settlement with Pingry would include financial compensation as a way of making amends to the victims, Crew confirmed.
“How do you compensate people who have been injured? I don’t know, but in our society, that’s how we do it,” said the physician.
The 50-year-old New Jersey businessman said the report, by downplaying any knowledge school officials may have had, convinced him litigation remained necessary.
“The school’s more interested in protecting the school than protecting their students,” he said. “That needs to change – and it’s not going to, unless someone makes them change.”