AN INDEPENDENT investigation is to be held into allegations of abuse, spanning decades, at St George’s School, an elite Episcopalian school in Rhode Island, in the United States.
A separate police investigation is already under way into the allegations of abuse by a number of staff at St George’s School during the 1970s and 1980s. The diocese of Central Pennsylvania has restricted the duties of a priest named in the allegations.
The co-educational boarding and day school issued an 11-page report before Christmas, in which it said that six former employees had abused 26 students in those decades. The school acknowledged that it had failed to report the abuse to child-protection authorities.
The report was criticised, however, by lawyers acting for some of the victims, for not being truly independent, as it was carried out by a lawyer whose partner works for the school. Lawyers have said that there are at least 40 victims.
A statement issued last week by the Bishop of Central Pennsylvania, Dr Audrey Scanlan, said that the ministry of the Revd Dr Howard White, a retired priest in his eighties, had been “immediately restricted”.
The statement said: “It is imperative that we employ all the safeguards that are available to us while the investigation of the Rhode Island State Police continues and while the formal ecclesiastical discipline process involving Fr White unfolds.”
A joint statement from St George’s School and a victims’ group said that the investigation would be carried out by an independent third party.
A member of the victims’ group, Anne Scott, said: “Today’s decision is a very important first step in what we hope will be a process of reconciliation and healing. We look forward to the input of all alumni/victims on today’s developments.”