NJ private school settles with dozens of molested, raped students
BERNARDS — A group of nearly two dozen former students who say they were sexually assaulted by a former teacher and administrator at the Pingry School have announced a settlement in their lawsuit.
In a Facebook post, a group called the Pingry Survivors announced the settlement, which included some of the steps to be taken that will "help ensure that Pingry is safer than ever before." The settlement came after more than two dozen students came forward to say they had been molested by multiple teachers at the school in the 1960s and '70s.
A report into the alleged abuses said that even though it was known that former teacher and scoutmaster Thad Alton had behaved inappropriately, students were encouraged not to press charges and to forget the abuse they had endured. After leaving the school, Alton was charged with molesting 12-year-old boys who were also students and Cub Scouts. Alton then got a job in upstate New York and was again charged with molestation and sodomy.
Among the steps being taken are the formation of Student Safety Advisory Committee, as well as other child protection policies. The school will also review methods to report "suspicions of abuse or inappropriate behavior."
Pingry school will also provide an undisclosed amount of money for counseling funds and will also pay the victims "for the devastating abuse they suffered."
Attorneys for the victims said they are "pleased that Pingry School has heard our clients and taken measures to acknowledge their pain."
"Most of all, we are hopeful because the survivors and the School have agreed to important steps to meet their ultimate common goal — making sure that The Pingry School is as safe as possible and ensuring that this history can never be repeated," the statement said.
The chairman of the school's Board of Trustees said that Pingry is "deeply sorry" for what happened to the students while they were attending the prestigious Central Jersey school.
"Their courage in coming forward is extraordinary," Jeffrey Edwards said. "We appreciate their patience during an extended mediation, and we are pleased to have addressed their concerns through this process."
Edwards added: "We hope these survivors can now move forward in their healing process, and we welcome their continued engagement as valued members of the Pingry community."
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