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St. Paul’s School Settles With Sex Abuse Survivor

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St. Paul’s School in Concord has agreed to settle with a former student who was sexually abused in the 1970s, though it continues to face lawsuits from other alumni.

The settlement, which remains confidential, was finalized in May and was shared with NHPR by the victim, William Foley, who said he was sexually abused by two teachers while attending St. Paul’s School in the early 1970s. In a statement, the school said it was “pleased" to reach a resolution with Foley and apologized for the abuse he suffered.

Foley, who now lives in New York, said he’ll never be able to gauge all the ways the abuse has impacted his life, but was pleasantly surprised that the settlement with St. Paul’s has brought him unexpected closure.

“I wish [the abuse] had never happened, obviously, I would have liked to have been happy, and I think St. Paul’s made a sincere effort to address that with me,” Foley said in a recent phone interview.

Foley enrolled at St. Paul’s in 1974, when he was 14 years old. Within weeks of arriving on campus, Foley said he met French teacher Robert Degouey, who Foley remembers as being immediately complimentary toward him - praising Foley’s French accent, and inviting Foley into his apartment to listen to music and read Le Petit Prince.

“In hindsight, it’s classic, but at the time I was homesick,” Foley recalled. “ And when he made sexual overtures to me I didn’t stop them.”

The abuse continued for months.   

Foley said he was abused by a second teacher, Steven Ball, in the spring of 1975. Ball was an English teacher that Foley had worked with on a paper.

“I created all sorts of vocabulary that justified what happened, but these people were serial and when you’re young, you see things differently and you can be more traumatized,” Foley said.

Foley’s abuse was documented in a 2017 report compiled by attorneys from Casner and Edwards, who were hired by St. Paul’s to investigate faculty sexual abuse. Foley told investigators that then Rector William Oates had called him in 1978 and the two met at the Logan Airport, where Foley said Oates told him not to discuss his interaction with Degouey as it could be detrimental to the school. Casner and Edwards attorneys found a letter in Foley’s file from Rector Oates that confirms the meeting.  

This settlement comes as St Paul’s faces multiple lawsuits over sexual assault. One is from a recent student, the other from two alumni who attended the school in the 1960s and 1970s.

Foley’s attorney, Eric MacLeish, who has represented hundreds of sexual abuse victims, said the settlement was reached “very quickly” and was a “positive” experience for Foley because of the way it was handled by St. Paul’s.

“There was no questioning what had occurred with Mr. Foley, everybody recognized how tragic it was,” MacLeish said.

In a statement, St. Paul’s Board President Archibald Cox Jr. said the school is pleased to reach a resolution and apologized for the abuse Foley suffered. He said the school plans to announce additional resources for students who were abused by faculty or staff.


Lauren is a Senior Reporter/Producer for NHPR's narrative news unit, Document.
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