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District attorney lauds Deerfield Academy’s handling of allegations

DEERFIELD — The Northwestern district attorney’s office has called allegations that a longtime Deerfield Academy teacher had sexual contact with a student “deeply disturbing,” but commended the school’s handling of the incident so far.

“Deerfield Academy appears to be taking an important first step to independently investigate inappropriate contacts between a former teacher ... and a student,” the office said.

The district attorney’s office said while it isn’t involved in the investigation yet, it will be if it learns that a crime had been committed within the statute of limitations.

According to the DA’s office, a complaint or indictment alleging child abuse can be filed any time after the offense is committed for up to 27 years.

Claims made outside of that window must be supported by independent evidence that corroborates the victim’s allegation, according to the office.

The school alleges the “contact” occurred during the 1980s, according to a letter from Head of the School Margarita Curtis and trustees president Philip Greer.

The school, which hasn’t explained the nature of the contact, nonetheless has identified the teacher. The Recorder has so far declined to identify the teacher because there has been no independent verification of the allegation raised by a former student, whom the school has not identified.

The teacher has been reported as saying he had given some students back rubs over the years but has not confirmed the school’s assertion that he has admitted to any inappropriate behavior.

Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan said state police detectives assigned to his office are available to former students wishing to report inappropriate contact, but his office generally isn’t involved unless a crime falls within the time limit for prosecution.

Deerfield Academy is conducting an investigation of the teacher’s years at the school, has retained an independent law firm to assist and has informed law enforcement authorities, the school’s letter said.

Deerfield Academy is asking those who have been personally affected or have any information that may assist in the investigation to contact the school.

The private co-educational academy, founded in 1797, enrolls about 630 students in grades 9 through 12, most of them boarding students.

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