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Annapolis, MD - Seven Victims Come Forward Prompting Key School Sexual Abuse Probe That Revealed Decades of Grooming and Sexual Abuse

Annapolis, MD - Seven Victims Come Forward Prompting Key School Sexual Abuse Probe That Revealed Decades of Grooming and Sexual Abuse
Published: February 26, 2024
By: Darla Medina
Last Updated on February 26, 2024

Maryland Private School Investigation Uncovers Decades-Old Sexual Abuse

According to Maryland Matters, Key School, a private school located at 534 Hillsmere Dr, Annapolis, MD 21403, initiated an investigation into allegations of a culture of sexual abuse that thrived decades ago with the knowledge of administrators in 2019. The allegations, which have recently come to light, involve at least eight faculty members and two adult chaperones, all men, who engaged in various forms of sexual exploitation, improper sexual contact, or pursued inappropriate relationships with students between the 1970s and 1990s.

The investigation was prompted by multiple former students who came forward with harrowing accounts of grooming and sexual abuse by teachers during the 1970s at Key School according to the Washington Post. Some of these students endured intimate contact with adults that lasted for years. The allegations gained momentum after 59-year-old Carolyn Surrick, who claims to have been abused by two Key teachers starting at the age of 13, fought tirelessly to shed light on her story and the stories of other victims. Surrick's campaign gained traction with the use of the hashtag #KeyToo, drawing parallels to the #MeToo movement that exposed widespread sexual harassment and assault.

Two Baltimore lawyers have been appointed to lead the investigation into the alleged misconduct at Key School, which caters to students from prekindergarten through 12th grade. Matthew Nespole, the current head of the school, expressed deep sympathy for the victims and survivors, acknowledging that former Key officials had failed to protect students from faculty misconduct. The President of Key School's board of trustees, Joe Janney, described the allegations as credible, upsetting, and inexcusable. The school issued a formal apology to all those impacted by the abuse and expressed regret for the events that transpired.

Despite the passage of several decades, the school is now confronting the allegations publicly for the first time. The accused perpetrators, some of whom are deceased or incapacitated, may not face legal consequences due to the elapsed time since the incidents occurred. However, the investigation aims to bring justice to the survivors and shed light on the magnitude of the misconduct that was reportedly known, albeit whispered about, within the Key School community.

Key School, which was founded in 1958 by tutors from St. John's College, prided itself on its informal atmosphere and curriculum based on the renowned "Great Books" program. The institution's progressive coed environment fostered close relationships between students and teachers, but it also provided a breeding ground for the alleged grooming and sexual abuse.

Anne Arundel County police have not received any recent reports of inappropriate conduct at the school. However, former students have revealed that some teachers were fired after complaints from students or parents, but many remained in the classroom, perpetuating the cycle of abuse.

As the investigation continues, the Key School community grapples with the revelations, and survivors hope that their accounts will help initiate a healing process and prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. The school's actions are emblematic of a broader trend across the country, with various institutions reevaluating how they have handled historical allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Key School, with its current enrollment exceeding 600 students, faces a critical moment in its history as it strives to address the deeply troubling past and ensure a safe environment for its students.

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Legal Options for Victims and Families of Private School Abuse

Following the outcome of the investigation into sexual abuse allegations at a Maryland private school, the path to justice for the families of victims becomes a pressing concern. To shed light on the legal options available for victims abused at a private school, we turn to child sex abuse attorney Aaron Blank, a local Maryland-based lawyer experienced in private school abuse cases. In this interview, Attorney Blank provides valuable insights into pursuing civil cases against liable parties and offers guidance to families seeking justice for their loved ones who experienced abuse while attending private schools.

Editor Darla Medina (DM): Thank you for being here, Mr. Blank.

Attorney Aaron Blank (AB): Thank you for having me, Darla. It's an important topic that deserves attention.

DM: Absolutely. After hearing the allegations at Key School, many victims may be wondering what steps they can take to seek justice. Could you explain the potential avenues for pursuing civil cases against liable parties?

AB: Certainly, Darla. When it comes to private school abuse cases, civil litigation can provide a means for victims and their families to hold the responsible parties accountable. In general, there are a few legal options available. First, victims can consider filing a civil lawsuit against the school itself, seeking compensation for damages resulting from the abuse, such as emotional distress, medical expenses, and therapy costs.

DM: Are there any specific legal elements that must be established for a successful civil case?

AB: Yes, in civil cases, it's crucial to establish negligence on the part of the school or its administrators. This can include demonstrating that the school knew or should have known about the abuse and failed to take appropriate action to prevent it or protect the students. Additionally, proving that the abuse directly caused harm to the victim is essential for a successful case.

DM: What about cases where the alleged perpetrators are deceased or incapacitated?

AB: That's a valid concern, Darla. In situations where the alleged abusers are no longer alive or capable of facing legal consequences, it can complicate matters. However, it's important to remember that civil cases can still be pursued against the school itself, as they may be held liable for their negligence in allowing the abuse to occur.

DM: Are there any time limitations for filing civil lawsuits in cases like these?

AB: Time limitations, known as statutes of limitations, vary by jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of each case. It's crucial for families to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to understand the applicable statutes of limitations and ensure their rights are protected.

DM: Thank you, Mr. Blank, for sharing your expertise on this important matter. Your insights will undoubtedly help families navigate the legal landscape surrounding private school abuse cases.

AB: It was my pleasure, Darla. I hope this information provides some guidance to those in need during this challenging time.


Maryland Matters

Washington Post

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Darla Medina
About Darla Medina
Editor: Darla is a content writer with a focus on the legal field. She covers cases of sexual abuse, drunk driving, and preventable violent crime for the Legal Herald. Contact Darla: This article was fact checked prior to publishing by this author to ensure compliance with our rigorous editorial standards. We will only use authoritative sources. Our values compel us to provide only trustworthy information. If you find an error, please contact us.
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