KENT - A Connecticut boarding school was sued Wednesday by a former female student who said her French teacher sexually assaulted her repeatedly in the late 1980s.
The lawsuit against the Kent School was filed in state Superior Court by the former student. It follows recent disclosures of sexual abuse allegations dating back years at other prestigious boarding schools in the Northeast.
The former student's lawyers, Paul Slager, Jennifer Goldstein and Paul Mones, said the lawsuit appears to be the first one alleging sexual abuse at the Kent School.
The lawsuit contends former French teacher Clyde Douglas Fenner “took steps to groom” the girl for a relationship and sexually assaulted her at various locations in 1987 and 1988. The assaults began when she was 15 and he was 49 or 50 and married, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit also accuses school officials of failing to report the abuse to authorities as required by law and retaliating against the girl.
Jeff Cataldo, the school's business manager and chief financial officer, declined to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday, saying school leaders are investigating the allegations.
Fenner resigned in July 1988, Cataldo said, adding he did not know if disciplinary proceedings against Fenner were pending at the time.
Fenner went on to teach French at another private school, the Evansville Day School in Evansville, Indiana. Public records show he lives in Evansville. He did not immediately return a phone message Wednesday.
Jarin Jaffee, head of school at Evansville Day School, said Fenner retired years before he began working there. He said he could not comment on the lawsuit or details of Fenner's employment.
“I know that Doug retired several years ago after what I heard was a very positive tenure as a French teacher,” Jaffee said.
The lawsuit said that after the alleged sexual assaults by Fenner became widely known on campus in the spring of 1988, one staff member told the student she had sinned by commiting adultery with Fenner. Fellow students also threw soda cans at her in a dormitory and shouted Fenner's name during her graduation ceremony in 1990, the lawsuit said.
Kent School, located in rural Kent in western Connecticut near the New York border, has 570 students. Boarding tuition is about $58,000 a year. Alumni include actor Ted Danson, actor and filmmaker Seth MacFarlane and former congressmen and U.S. ambassadors.