The Rhode Island State Police and the state Attorney General have announced there will be no criminal charges in the sex investigation of St. George’s School.
An extensive seven-month investigation into systemic sexual abuse at St. George’s School found “no prosecutable criminal conduct,” and has been closed, State Police Col. Steven G. O’Donnell and Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin said Thursday.
“Unfortunately for those who came forward, they will not be able to seek justice within the criminal justice system due to the applicable statutes defining conduct, and statute of limitations,” said a joint statement issued Thursday afternoon.
State police detectives focused the investigation on allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct by seven former faculty members, one current employee and three former students upon students at the elite private Episcopal boarding school in Middletown, the statement said.
They examined allegations that the current and prior school administrations did not report alleged assaults to the state Department of Children, Youth, and Families, as required for credible accusations of abuse.
“These allegations of failure to report could not be charged due to the fact that in some instances the alleged failure to report was not defined as a criminal offense until 1979, and in other instances, the prosecution of any allegations would be time barred by the three-year statute of limitations that existed for the specific crime,” the statement said.
Kilmartin and O’Donnell also noted that the decision not to file criminal charges was based on “the laws which defined the alleged conduct at the time it occurred. . . . The laws on sexual assault are much different today than existed at the time many of the reported incidents took place.”
Another Providence Journal article has reaction from victims:
“We’re obviously disappointed,” said Anne Scott, co-founder of SGS for Healing, an alumni group of survivors of sexual assault at St. George’s. “Survivors are going to continue to seek justice, and when it comes to sexual assault, justice will require systems reform. There’s an urgent need to look at the statute of limitations on both the civil and criminal side, as well as mandatory reporting.”
[Victims’ attorneys] MacLeish and Durso singled out The Rev. Howard W. White Jr., former St. George’s assistant chaplain whom the school fired but never reported to authorities, after White admitted to sexual misconduct in 1974.
“You have people like Reverend Howdy White, who has admitted to molesting children,” and gone on to allegedly molesting others, MacLeish said. “And there’s nothing that can be done. It’s a reminder that the statute of limitations is inconsistent with the protection of children.”
A Journal investigation published May 1 found that after St. George’s fired White, he worked at other private schools and parishes in multiple states over the next four decades. During that time he allegedly sexually abused other children. (White has not been charged with any crime.)
White, who is canonically resident in Central Pennsylvania. A Title IV proceeding has been on hold while Rhode Island was conducting its criminal investigation. It has not been determined whether that Title IV proceeding will now go ahead based on the St. George’s allegations alone given the other allegations against him also under criminal investigation elsewhere.
The Rev. George Andrews’ Title IV case can now proceed. He is accused of failure to report sex abuse while he was headmaster at St. George’s. Andrews is canonically resident in the Diocese of Southeast Florida.
In early May, the Providence Journal reported St. George’s School working on settlements with 30 over sexual abuse allegations.
In April a current St. George’s administrator was placed on leave over concerns of maintaining proper boundaries with students.
— Perry Russom (@PerryRussom) June 3, 2016