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Porter-Gaud Sex Abuse: Was The Past A Prologue?

Documentary revives the school’s past … but also exposes its present …

In The Tempest, the dramatis personæ of William Shakespeare offered up one of his most enduring phrases …

“What’s past is prologue,” Antonio, brother of Prospero, said as he plotted with Sebastian to murder the latter’s father, Alonso the King of Naples.

The phrase implied that everything up to that moment in Antonio and Sebastian’s lives had led them – fated them – to a future that would flow from their treachery.

This phrase – emblazoned on the northeast corner of the National Archives in Washington, D.C. – has taken on a different meaning in modern parlance.  Instead of describing a transformational moment marking the launch of a divergent future, it has become a commentary on the context of time – synonymous with the famous quote from Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana that “those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”

It is this iteration of the phrase we find most applicable as it relates to Porter-Gaud, an elite Episcopal school located on the banks of the Ashley River in Charleston, South Carolina.  Home to nearly 1,000 students, Porter-Gaud is one of the Palmetto State’s most prestigious college preparatory schools – a night versus day departure from the government-run “failure factories” that define K-12 education in South Carolina.

But the school has a secret …

Readers of The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier were reminded of this secret on Friday when the paper ran an item on a new documentary called “What Haunts Us.”

The film – directed by Porter-Gaud alumna Paige Goldberg Tolmach – recalls the saga of Eddie Fischer, who taught at the school for eleven years in the 1970s and early 1980s.

During that time, Fischer molested at least 20 young boys – actions which officials at Porter-Gaud apparently knew about even as they were assisting him in his efforts to find jobs at other schools (where he molested additional victims).

One of the administrators who helped Fischer – former Porter-Gaud principal James Bishop Alexander – killed himself just days before he was scheduled to be deposed in one of the court cases related to the scandal.

More ominously, several of Fischer’s victims also committed suicide in the aftermath of the abuse they suffered.

Here’s the trailer for the film …

(Click to view)

(Via: YouTube)

Unfortunately, readers of The Post and Courier don’t know the half of the story … literally.

In the paper’s coverage, written by reporter Paul Bowers, Porter-Gaud administrators – led by head of school DuBose Egleston – offered up the typical platitudes in response to Tolmach’s film.

They offered praise for her work and indicated a desire to be “part of the conversation” about sex abuse prevention.

“It takes a lot of people to prevent this sort of thing from happening,” Egleston told Bowers, adding that “with younger kids, it’s helping them understand that we love them and care about them and they have someone they can talk to.”

But has Porter-Gaud really prevented it from happening?

According to our sources, no …

It’s happened again … and once again, we’re told the school has covered it up.

Also, once again the alleged sexual abuse has reportedly led to at least one suicide involving a victim.

“What (The Post and Courier) failed to report was that it’s already happened again,” a source familiar with the situation told is “And that Porter-Gaud AGAIN has gone to great lengths to cover it up.”

“There are so many parallels between this (new case) and Eddie Fischer,” another source familiar with the latest Porter-Gaud scandal told us. “It’s ironic – that the new case is happening at the same time the film is being released.”

According to our sources, the latest scandal involves a former “religious figurehead” at Porter-Gaud – one who has since taken a new position in the community.  At least two mothers of alleged victims have reached out to Lowcountry sex abuse advocates in the hopes of getting help for their children – and getting local law enforcement to take action in relation to the case.

One source familiar with the situation told us a shocking tale about overhearing two young boys as they discussed their alleged abuser – using what we’re told is a well-known nickname as well as a commonly employed tactic used to avoid his alleged advances.

“They were talking about how they would try to get away from his clutches in public,” the woman told us. “They called it the ‘spinout method,’ because he would give them these excessively long, overly tight embraces in public and they would literally have to ‘spin out’ of them.”

That same term was used by a source with knowledge of the scandal – who referred to the “spinout method” as the boys “preferred method of escaping his embrace.”

“They all talk about the ‘spinout method,'” our source said.  “They would tell each other ‘don’t forget the spinout method to get away from (nickname).'”

Stay tuned …

Much more to come …

UPDATE: Porter-Gaud responds …

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