One of South Carolina’s most prestigious college preparatory schools is responding to our reporting regarding allegations of sexual abuse involving a former “religious figurehead.”
In a curiously worded email sent to the school’s entire email network on Sunday evening, Porter-Gaud’s head of school DuBose Egleston and board of trustees chairman Hank Cheves flatly denied receiving any recent reports alleging sexual abuse – however they acknowledged that some “limited” instances of “inappropriate” conduct may have taken place on campus.
“We find these insinuations of sexual abuse deeply concerning and distressing,” Egleston and Cheves wrote. “At the same time, we have no indication they are anything but that – insinuations.”
Egleston and Cheves’ email specifically addressed reports of “a faculty/ staff member who has since left our school.”
From the email, here’s the denial …
Porter-Gaud has received no allegations of sexual abuse regarding any current or recent faculty or staff member.
This statement was qualified, however, by an acknowledgment that the school had previously been made aware of certain inappropriate “behaviors or interactions.”
“In the past, Porter-Gaud has been made aware of a limited number of behaviors or interactions that could be characterized as inappropriate, as defined by our Code of Conduct, but in no way constituted sexual abuse,” the letter continued. “In those cases, Porter-Gaud took action from remedial training in our School’s policies to corrective behavior protocols to more severe personnel measures.”
Here’s the letter …
(Click to view)
No details regarding these “limited” behaviors and interactions were provided in the letter. It’s also not clear whether the “more severe personnel measures” taken by the school included the termination of the staffer Egleston and Cheves previously claimed “left” Porter-Gaud.
A very confusing letter indeed …
As this news site reported over the weekend, the mothers of at least two Porter-Gaud students 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.
The allegations come at the worst possible time for the school – which is dealing with unwanted public attention related to a new documentary. Entitled “What Haunts Us,” the documentary retells the story of a major sex abuse scandal that took place in the 1970s and early 1980s. It was produced by Paige Goldberg Tolmach, a Porter-Gaud alumna.
Tolmach’s film recalls the saga of Eddie Fischer, who molested at least 20 young boys at the school – actions which Porter-Gaud officials 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 get a new job – 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.
Has history repeated itself?
According to our sources, several recent suicides involving former Porter-Gaud students have been tied to the latest allegations of sexual abuse.
How did Porter-Gaud’s alumni respond to the school’s email response? Not favorably …
“Seems like the current administration is forgetting that those who were previously accused of ‘inappropriate’ conduct actually admitted to and were imprisoned for rampant sexual abuse,” one prominent alumna wrote. “Clearly at Albemarle Point, the powers that be are still determined to sweep things under the rug for the sake of political expediency.”
Stay tuned …
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