Abuse allegations at disability boarding school include teacher from Maine

Posted Jan. 12, 2013, at 6:58 a.m.

BEVERLY, Mass. — Reports of sexual abuse at a boarding school specializing in language-based disabilities are growing as more alumni step forward.

Three more former employees of the Landmark School now face allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse, according to a report by the school’s board of trustees and an open letter from headmaster Robert Broudo, both issued Thursday.

The latest allegations stem from an investigation the school launched last summer after two alumni accused a former staff member of groping them in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

That former Landmark employee, Howard J. Kasper, was working in the Rockport, Mass., public schools last year and was placed on indefinite administrative leave by Rockport before the start of this school year.

In his letter to the Landmark community, Broudo writes that school officials contacted more than 4,000 parents, alumni and previous faculty members in two separate letters about sexual allegations.

According to the report, two former Landmark students recently told school officials they were inappropriately touched by a former food services employee who worked at the school from 1971 to 1985.

Another former student said he was abused in the early 1970s in a school dormitory and at the teacher’s home in Maine.

The report said allegations were made by 11 former students, in new and past cases, against six former employees at the school, but no allegations have risen against current employees. The charges range from verbal sexual harassment to sexual abuse.

The report by the Landmark trustees does not include the names of alumni who have brought charges or any of the accused employees.

The report states there are no new allegations toward Kasper.

However, David Breed, one of the two Landmark School alumni who first reported Kasper in July 2012, told the Times on Friday there are others who have alleged sexual misconduct and assault by Kasper in the past but have not contacted the school.

Kasper worked as assistant dean of students at Landmark from 1997 to 2000 and is currently employed in a guidance counselor position at Rockport Middle School.

Kasper was a full-time employee from 2000 to 2012, but requested to go on paid administrative leave in August, shortly after the allegations arose in July.

Then, in the fall, Kasper took a different position, working half the time and with half the pay, outside the school.

Rockport Superintendent Robert Liebow said Friday that Kasper is given projects that guidance counselors cannot usually address, such as guidance curriculum and supporting projects.

Two retired guidance counselors, first David Curley of Rockport and now Judy Sheehan, formerly of Gloucester’s O’ Maley Middle School, have filled in as long-term substitutes for Kasper.

Liebow said, hopefully in the coming months, a new full-time counselor will be chosen for the next school year.

“Cost will not be an issue, we will look for the best individual,” he said.

Kasper’s agreement with the school states he is to resign in January 2015.

In an email to the Times, Liebow said Rockport school officials in October requested $70,000 from Landmark School to help cover the costs of Kasper’s new position, but received a letter of denial in December.

Liebow said the Rockport schools requested the money since Kasper came to Rockport with high recommendations. Landmark officials denied the request because the allegations against Kapser were unproven and Landmark had no obligation to alert Rockport officials, according to an article in yesterday’s Boston Globe.

While neither Kasper, Breed, or any other alleged victim or school official are named in the report, Liebow noted two inaccuracies.

Kasper was never suspended from Rockport and is still employed by the school.

Liebow clarified that while Kasper works strictly outside the school, he is free to go school event, as they are public.

The report also echoes that no allegations have been made against Kasper while at Rockport.

“The investigation is not over and Landmark requests anyone who has relevant information should provide it to school,” Landmark spokesman Peter Mancusi said.

In addition, trustees have notified the Essex County District Attorney’s office about the findings.

Landmark officials also reported the previous allegations about Kasper to the state’s departments of Children and Families, Elementary and Secondary Education, and Early Education.

“While we remain committed to achieving the highest level of service and care for our current students, we owe our alumni no lesser duty,” Broudo wrote in his letter.

Gloucester Daily Times writer Tom Dalton contributed to this report.

 

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