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School launches probe into potential historic sex abuse

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Mount Saint Agnes Academy from the west (Photograph Supplied)
Mount Saint Agnes Academy (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A private school has launched an investigation into potential historic sex abuse, it was revealed yesterday.

Mount Saint Agnes Academy told parents in a letter yesterday that it had hired T&M Protection Resources, a New York-based firm, to conduct the investigation.

Susan Moench, the principal of the Pembroke school, wrote that the move was sparked by allegations made by a former MSA schoolgirl in connection with events at the school about two decades ago.

Ms Moench said the school conducted a limited inquiry in the past few years, but that it was now accepted that a “broader investigation” was needed.

She told parents: “Through continued discussion, including with the Bermuda Police Service, we now agree it is important to invite any and all persons with knowledge of inappropriate behaviour in connection with MSA to come forward through a confidential means.”

She added: “We sincerely want to know if there are any other incidents that MSA needs to address and to be given the opportunity to fulfil our moral obligation to assist victims where possible.”

Ms Moench told The Royal Gazette: “We believe that it is important to give other potential victims an opportunity to come forward.”

She said she had spoken to the former pupil and that “we have learnt and grown from this experience and we received clearance from the Bermuda Police Service that we could take this further”.

The former pupil, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “I am elated that the school has finally decided to launch the full investigation that I have been asking for.”

She added: “This has been a very long, tedious and exhausting journey … It should not have been so difficult, but I am glad that this is the result and that I did not give up trying and that MSA is now doing the right thing.”

The school appealed to anyone with information about, or who had suffered from, sexual misconduct at MSA to contact the lead investigators at T&M – Julie Freudenheim and Laura Kirschstein – at 646 445-7645.

Information can also by shared by e-mail to MSA@tmprotection.com.

Ms Moench wrote in the parental letter: “Abuse of any kind, no matter when it occurred, should not be tolerated, and it is crucial that MSA strives to create a better, safer, more enlightened future.

“With a clear sense of our core values of trust and integrity, we will pursue the truth – wherever that may lead – and will support our alumni who may have been impacted.”

T&M earlier carried out an inquiry into historic allegations at Saltus Grammar School, which concluded that a primary schoolteacher had committed sex assaults on pupils in the 1970s and 1980s.

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