Rhode Island’s St. George’s School reaches settlement with sex abuse victims

MIDDLETOWN, R.I., Aug. 3 (UPI) — Sex abuse victims at Rhode Island’s St. George’s School have reached a settlement with school officials over misconduct during the 1970s and 1980s.

“St. George’s has done something meaningful and important for survivors,” Anne Scott, who accused the school’s former Athletic Director Al Gibbs of rape, said after the agreement was announced. “It’s hard to put into words what it feels like to receive this kind of validation and support, after all these years.”

Scott’s public accusation brought forward additional accusations by other victims. The settlement was reached through mediation by Paul Finn, a Massachusetts-area mediator and arbitrator who has worked on priest and school sex abuse cases in the past.

The abuse was allegedly committed by six former employees of the Middletown school — all of whom were discharged, but not reported to police. The St. George’s School, which taught children between the ages of 13 and 18, expressed regret in a report released in December that some of its students appear to have been harmed.

The school’s investigation cited at least 26 students who were abused but 30 people stepped forward with accusations of abuse. Of all the six accused perpetrators, the report identified just Gibbs, who was fired by the school in 1980 and died in 1996.

“It is our sincere hope that this agreed resolution will assist our survivors as they move forward towards healing,” Leslie Heaney, chair of St. George’s School’s board of trustees, said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with our survivor community so that the lessons learned can ensure the safety of our current and future generations of St. George’s students.”

Doug G. Ware contributed to this report.

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