This summer in The Boston Globe, Deerfield graduate Whit Sheppard ’83 wrote about his story of sexual abuse by former DA faculty member Peter Hindle. Sheppard recently agreed to speak with The Scroll.
Since the announcement of the abuse, Head of School Dr. Margarita Curtis has approached the issue with transparency, keeping students informed as well as using the incident as a learning opportunity. “We have adopted a new code of conduct,” Dr. Curtis said, “that requires employees to conduct themselves at all times with the highest standard of ethics and integrity and with the best interests of the students and the school in mind. The code explicitly forbids any romantic or sexual contact between adults and students.”
Responding to these actions, Sheppard said, “I have been heartened to date by several aspects of Deerfield’s institutional response to the allegations I re-raised in June 2012 and by the school’s attempts to remain transparent throughout the process.” He continued, “My hope is that this straight-on approach will continue moving forward.”
In addition to showing the need for clear boundaries in student-faculty relations, Sheppard hopes his story will have an impact on anyone who has ever been subjected to sexual abuse. His choice to reveal himself was intended to empower other victims to finally speak out against such injustice.
“My story is really a proxy for other Deerfield boys who were also subjected to sexual advances from Peter Hindle during their time at the school,” Sheppard said. “These things do not happen in a vacuum and typically result in widespread abuse and victims. I chose to speak up and to attach my identity to my story in hopes of helping heal old wounds for myself and potentially for others as well.”
Sheppard’s piece in The Boston Globe brought the issue of sexual abuse between teacher and student to the forefront, attracting nationwide attention. The story has sparked numerous responses from inside and outside of the Deerfield community.
“The alumni responses have been universally supportive and kind,” Sheppard said about feedback. “I have heard from former faculty, classmates and alumni I’ve never met, and they’ve all had very nice things to say. Their support has meant a lot to me and reminded me that the world, and our alma mater as well, is full of good people who care.”