‘Firsthand accounts’ prompt sexual-misconduct inquiry at St. Albans School

WASHINGTON — St. Albans School — a prestigious all-boys school on the grounds of the Washington National Cathedral — has hired a law firm to conduct a sexual-misconduct investigation, after a former teacher was implicated in having inappropriate sexual relationships with students at an Annapolis school.

In a letter to the community Monday, headmaster Jason Robinson and board of governors member Robert Musslewhite said that after allegations from the 1970s against teacher Vaughn Keith were recently corroborated in a report released by the Key School in Annapolis, St. Albans officials have been hearing from alumni about Keith. He taught Latin and classical history for six years in the 1980s, after his contract was not renewed at Key.

According to the Key report, investigators “found credible evidence that Mr. Keith had engaged in sexual misconduct with two female Key students during the 1970s.” The report said Keith frequently hosted parties that included students and faculty.

Keith died in 1990 at the age of 40 of complications from AIDS.

Since scrutiny of Keith’s behavior at the Key School began, Robinson has heard from alumni who became acquainted with Keith during his time teaching at St. Albans.

“I have also heard about past incidents when we seem to have fallen short of the school we aspire to be, including firsthand accounts of inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct by [a] former St. Albans teacher,” wrote Robinson.

The school has retained the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton to “conduct a comprehensive and impartial review, without influence or interference from school administrators, faculty, or staff.”

“To be clear: There is no evidence that any current teacher has behaved in ways that fall short of our professional expectations,” Robinson wrote. “Rather, as a church school with a moral mission and a commitment to excellence in all that we do, we have an obligation to seek the fullest possible understanding of our past, to reckon honestly with both our successes and shortcomings, and to learn from our history.”

While the investigation “will focus on alleged adult misconduct from years past,” Robinson said, the findings will also apply to current students at St. Albans and National Cathedral School — an all-girls school.

“As society continues to reckon with sexual harassment and misconduct, it is clear that we as schools must equip our young men and women with the moral resources to build a better future; to help them model the ideals of respect, civility, empathy, and kindness in their interpersonal relationships; and to hold them accountable when their behavior falls short of these ideals.”

Robinson said he hopes to be able to provide an update on the investigation by the end of the academic year.

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