A former student at the Hotchkiss School filed a lawsuit Thursday claiming administrators at the exclusive Lakeville boarding school turned a blind eye when he endured rape and sexual abuse at the hands of a teacher and older students in the 1980s.
According to the lawsuit, 14-year-old John Doe walked into "an environment of well-known and tolerated sexual assaults, sexually violent hazing, and pedophilia" despite reassurances from the admissions director that rules governing sexual conduct were strictly enforced.
The suit says teacher and dormitory master Roy G. Smith, known to the students as "Uncle Roy," lured the teen into his apartment, drugged him and raped him.
John Doe wasn't Smith's first victim, according to the paperwork, but school officials did nothing to protect students from the so-called pedophile.
The lawsuit also claims John Doe was subjected to hazing that was both "permitted and condoned." Older students struck him with paddles and forced him to endure "traumatizing forcible sexualized touching."
The Hotchkiss School responded to the lawsuit in a statement posted on its website.
“The behavior described in the lawsuit is thoroughly abhorrent and completely contrary to Hotchkiss’ values, then and now. Healthy relationships—among students and between students and adults—are the foundation of the Hotchkiss experience, and our commitment to students’ safety and wellbeing is absolute,” said Head of School Dr. Kevin M. Hicks and Board of Trustees President Jeannie Weinberg Rose.
They said the school is working with an independent law firm to investigate the allegations and that Smith has recently died.
John Doe's lawsuit is reminiscent of two other sex assault lawsuits filed against the nearby Indian Mountain Boarding School.