The American School for the Deaf, a special education program with residential campuses in West Hartford and Salisbury Connecticut, released a report on Friday detailing physical and sexual abuse by staff dating back to the 1950s and continuing into the 1980s. The report names nine former staff members, some deceased, who the school says were “credibly accused” by multiple alumni of sexual abuse, grooming and inappropriate sexual conduct. Nearly 40 alumni also reported sustained physical abuse in the form of corporal punishment such as “being forced to kneel on broomsticks, kneeling for extended periods of time, being forced to walk on their knees, being slapped and punched, being struck with sticks, belts, paddles and/or rulers, and being restrained with belts, sheets and/or straight jackets.” Other alumni reported being forced to eat until vomiting and being isolated in closets for long periods of time, according to the ASD’s report.
ASD has turned all their findings over to the authorities as well as the Connecticut school board, but it’s unclear if any of the report will result in criminal charges, as there is no statute of limitations on sex crimes that are also Class A felonies. The school has apologized to the alumni who reported these incidences and outlined updates to their previous policies which did little to protect students. Some of these methods include increased surveillance cameras on campuses, updated systems for reporting abuse, and a reevaluation of harassment and punishment policies. The school continues to board and teach students between the ages of 3 - 21 who are deaf, hard of hearing, or nonverbal on the autism spectrum.
According to the New York Times, the ASD began its investigation in February when multiple alumni came forward with allegations of past abuse at the school. Of the nine former staff members accused, five are deceased and the remaining four declined interviews as part of the ASD’s investigation. Gary Kleeblatt, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Children and Families, told the Times, “in this situation, due to the passage of time, we found that the alleged perpetrators no longer posed a risk to children.” While the living named perpetrators may no longer pose a threat to children, none of the changes amount to any sort of proximate justice for the victims.
Read the full report on New York Times.