WALLINGFORD — An investigation by Choate Rosemary Hall found that a former female faculty member had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a male student during the 1989-1990 school year, the school confirmed Thursday.
Based on the investigation’s findings, the former faculty member was fired from a position with another private school in May.
Following Choate’s release of an independent investigation in April that documented sexual misconduct by 12 former faculty members, a former student contacted Choate in May and “disclosed that he had been subjected to sexual misconduct by former faculty member Sarah (Sally) Pont during the 1989-90 school year,” Choate spokeswoman Lorraine Connelly said Thursday in response to an inquiry from the Record-Journal.
Pont could not be reached for comment.
Pont was not one of 12 teachers named in Choate’s 48-page report, which was compiled by former federal prosecutor Nancy Kestenbaum.
Choate’s investigation of Pont “was able quickly to corroborate these allegations of serious sexual misconduct,” Connelly said.
Choate received the allegations against Pont after Kestenbaum’s investigation concluded and before the school hired Connecticut-based law firm Day Pitney to investigate new allegations made by former students. The investigation of Pont was handled by the school’s administration and legal counsel.
Pont taught at Choate from 1986 to 1990. Until May, she had been working as a college advisor at Maumee Valley Country Day School, a private school in Toledo, Ohio.
After corroborating the allegations, Choate relayed its findings to Maumee Valley. Pont was terminated on May 22, Maumee Valley said in a statement. She had worked at the school for three years.
Pont “underwent a thorough background check conducted by the FBI and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations,” according to the statement, but “the background check did not indicate any concerns.”
“While this happened a long time ago at Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut, protecting students and creating a safe, nurturing learning environment is our highest priority,” the Maumee Valley statement said.
Choate also contacted police and the state Department of Children and Families following the investigation of Pont.
Police Chief William Wright said Thursday that police received a report about the misconduct from DCF in May. Police reviewed the case and determined the statue of limitations for the crimes have expired.
Roderick MacLeish, an attorney representing the former student, said his client was a 14-year-old freshman at Choate when Pont began making “sexual overtures,” causing the student to “fall into a sexual relationship with Pont.”
Pont was the former student’s faculty dorm advisor at the time, MacLeish said.
“It was pure exploitation,” said MacLeish, who represents many victims of school sexual assault.
Beginning in the winter term of his freshman year, the student spent most of his time in Pont’s apartment, MacLeish said, and Pont allegedly took the student on unsupervised trips to New Haven and New York City.
As a result of Pont’s alleged abuse, the student was forced to take a psychiatric leave during the middle of the school year. He did not finish his school career at Choate. MacLeish said his client has dealt with “significant mental health problems” and required inpatient psychiatric care as a result of Pont’s alleged abuse.
“This young man that I represent has been through absolute hell,” MacLeish said. “It was absolutely catastrophic for him psychologically.”
MacLeish represented hundreds of sexual abuse victims against the Boston Archdiocese in the 1990s. He represents many victims of school sexual assault, including Choate graduates.
From interviewing former students at the school, MacLeish said he believes Pont’s alleged sexual exploitation of his client was known at the time by some faculty members and prefects at Choate.
The current Choate administration was not aware of the allegations until May, a school representative said.
MacLeish said his client did not report the allegations to Choate until after Kestenbaum’s report was released because he was not aware of the investigation until the report was published in April. He first learned of the investigation by reading about it in the New York Times, MacLeish added.
MacLeish said he and his client worked with Choate to provide documents and information to Maumee Valley.
Choate is continuing to work with Day Pitney to investigate allegations the school received following Kestenbaum’s investigation.