Key School Abuse Figure Sparks DC School Investigation: Report

ANNAPOLIS, MD — A teacher named in the investigation into decades of sexual abuse at the private Key School in Annapolis also taught at a Washington, D.C., school now looking into misconduct and inappropriate relationships at St. Albans School, a report says. The revelation comes roughly a week after officials at Key School released a report that acknowledged several teachers had sexual relationships with students in the 1970s through the 199os; at least 16 former students were victims of abuse.

Two investigators from the Baltimore-based law firm Kramon & Graham spent eight months reviewing documents, trying to corroborate reports of abuse, and interviewing 57 people. They concluded that ten adults in positions of authority at Key School had sexual misconduct or inappropriate relationships with students from the 1970s through the early 1990s: Eric Dennard, Richard Sohmer, Peter Perhonis, Vaughan Keith, Paul Stoneham, John Sienicki, Charles Ramos, William Schreitz, Tad Erickson, and one unnamed person who was both a victim and an abuser.

Keith taught at St. Albans in DC in the 1980s, but had taught English and foreign languages at Key School in the late-1970s. He was let go from the Annapolis school after a parent saw him holding hands with a student, according to the Capital Gazette. He died in 1990.

Jason F. Robinson, the headmaster at St. Albans, told the newspaper he learned of Keith’s misconduct at Key in August. So far, there has been no evidence that Keith engaged in improper behavior with students while he was on the faculty at St. Albans, but there have been “firsthand accounts of inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct by former St. Albans teachers,” Robinson said.

“Key School’s leadership of today acknowledges that the abuse and lack of appropriate timely intervention was enabled by a toxic culture of permissiveness coupled with silence, where adults with intent took advantage of their power over students,” wrote Head of School Matthew Nespole and Board of Trustees President Joe Janney in the Jan. 28 report.

“We are profoundly sorry for the pain and suffering you experienced and endured,” the leaders wrote to victims. “We offer heartfelt thanks to those who came forward and spoke with the investigators. We cannot know how hard that must have been for some and we, as a community, owe you our deepest appreciation for your willingness to speak candidly and recount painful experiences. You enabled the investigators to bring clarity to what occurred.”

The full Key School report is being shared here. It is also available on the investigation webpage,

No allegations of misconduct against any current member of the Key faculty, staff or administration have been made, investigators said.

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The report cites Eric Dennard, who taught art at the Key School from 1969 to 1978, as a leader in the 1970s subculture that encouraged sexual relationships between teachers and students alongside rampant drug and alcohol abuse. Multiple witnesses made credible reports that Dennard had forcibly raped them, the investigators said. It was estimated that he had sexual intercourse with 25 Key students while he was on the school’s faculty. Dennard died in 1993.

PHOTO: This Jan. 15, 2019, photo shows Key School in Annapolis, Md. The private school in Maryland confirmed Monday, Jan. 28, that some adults in positions of authority engaged in sexual misconduct or inappropriate relationships with students from the 1970s through the early 1990s, and the school failed to protect students from them. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

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