An inpendent legal firm hired by the Academy has recently concluded its investigation of the allegations against Peter Hindle, Deerfield math teacher from 1956 to 2000.
The investigation confirmed statements against Mr. Hindle as well as accused Bryce Lambert, another former teacher in the English Department from 1952 to 1990, of similar behaviors.
Deerfield considered it a moral obligation to handle these allegations with transparency, to pay respect to the victims and acknowledge the difficulty of revealing such a difficult experience.
Following the letter released on the Daily Bulletin, in print and on other social media sites on January 28, Deerfield issued another on March 30, explaining Deerfield’s reason for openness concerning Lambert’s and Hindle’s indiscretions.
“A lack of disclosure of inappropriate behavior can allow individuals to maintain positions of responsibility where they are a threat to children or, as in this case, to be venerated despite their past actions,” the second letter said.
Head of School Margarita Curtis commented, “On a very concrete level, sexual abuse victims will say that unless you name the perpetrator the healing process cannot start, because then it still feels like you are only revealing partial truths. Transparency is crucial for the healing process of any victim, coming forward and saying, ‘This did happen.’”
These allegations have aroused media attention, and both Dr. Curtis and Mr. Thiel have received considerable response from numerous alumni who respected and revered both Mr. Hindle and Mr. Lambert.
“It is difficult because we are talking about significant people who contributed a lot to the school, and who also did a lot of good, but it’s not the complete picture,” Dr. Curtis said. “We are not denying all the good things, but this other aspect [of misconduct] is also true.”
Deerfield’s comprehensive investigation has led to several conclusions. “Once the school becomes aware of transgressions, our role is to find out exactly what happened, and then to create a safe environment for everyone to come forward,” Dr. Curtis said. “That has been the primary purpose of the first and second letter, to admit that mistakes were made and support the victims in any way we can.”
According to the letter, previous reports had been made against Mr. Hindle. Given Mr. Hindle’s denials and highly revered status, the administration relied solely on verbal and written warnings.
“However, we do not think the ‘standards of the day’ argument exonerates the Academy or any individual, primarily because this view ignores the plight of the victims,” the letter said. “As painful as this process has been, we believe that disclosure and a public apology is the only responsible action. The healing process of the victims has been, and will continue to be, our overriding concern.”