Release of the Cozen O'Connor Report, April 18, 2017
Dear Emma Community,
As promised in our communications since July, 2016, we have been determined to share and confront the facts surrounding sexual abuse at Emma Willard School.
Today, we present you with the complete results of the external audit conducted by child protection experts Leslie M. Gomez and Gina Maisto Smith of the law firm Cozen O'Connor. You can access the report on our website here and at https://issuu.com/emmawillard/docs/report. We are making it available to everyone in the Emma community.
As a community, we collectively offer our compassion and support. We apologize profoundly to all who have been harmed. We offer our apology with humility, knowing that words are insufficient and long overdue. As each victim and others who were impacted heal, our community heals.
This investigation was undertaken so that we understand, plan and educate about sexual misconduct. We are taking responsibility for the past so that our future is different. As one alumna summarized, “To know better is to do better.”
This report reflects a choice we have made: to transparency, to listening, to accountability and to change. Alumnae names have been eliminated from this report in order to ensure confidentiality and privacy of our community members, as they have requested. Please join us in respecting their personal courage and protecting their vulnerability. The decision to publish names of perpetrators was one that was carefully weighed. Factors that led to disclosures of identity included some or any of the following: where there were multiple first-hand accounts, an admission of guilt, or a single report was corroborated by school documents and/or police records.
While this report marks the end of this one important milestone, it is certainly not the end of our efforts. Emma Willard will continue to investigate any and all cases of abuse brought forward, partnering with Troy law enforcement. Our reporting protocols can be found at Emmawillard.org/healthyboundaries and we encourage anyone with additional information to come forward to representatives at the school, Gomez and Smith at Cozen O’Connor, or the Troy Police Department. Cozen O’Connor will monitor the anonymous tip line at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Review_EWS.
We are committed to the change in our culture, our policies, and our curriculum that comes with our awareness of this issue. We bring resolve and purpose to build a better, safer school. We have shared with the community the details of many of those changes and efforts to date. We have also begun to frame a dialogue that we hope will ultimately bring change to how we and our peer institutions deal with abuse on campus. In all our efforts, we honor the example and leadership of the women whose voices we hear in this report.
Today our school, our trustees, our students, our alumnae and our entire community listen, learn and build a different future for our Emma girls.
This is a day for reflecting on the collective experiences of all Emma girls. Our community is deeply appreciative of all who have brought this history into the daylight. In so doing, you embody our purpose: "to serve and shape her world".
Elisabeth Allen LeFort '72
Chair of Board of Trustees
Dr. Susan R. Groesbeck
Head of School, Interim
05.06.17 Alumnae Advisory Task Force Makes Final Report to the Emma Board of Trustees
03.10.17 Alumnae Advisory Task Force Recommendations to the Emma Board of Trustees
01.17.17 Emma Administrators Attend Conference on Gender and Sexuality Development
9.30.16 Letter to Parents from Head of School, Interim Dr. Susan R. Groesbeck
9.30.16 Letter to Alumnae from Board of Trustees Chair-Elect Susie Hunter '68
Announcement from the Alumnae Advisory Task Force 09.2016
Faculty and Staff Training with Linda Johnson 8.24.16
Administrators Meet with Troy Police 8.17.16
School Policy Institute on Cyber and Sexual Misconduct 8.1.16
Important Message from Leslie M. Gomez and Gina Smith with an Update from Dr. Susan R. Groesbeck
February 8, 2017
Child protection experts Leslie M. Gomez and Gina Maisto Smith, who have been leading an external investigation into historical allegations of sexual abuse at Emma Willard School, have left the Pepper Hamilton law firm to join Cozen O’Connor. Gina and Leslie will seamlessly continue their work with our school at Cozen O’Connor. Gina and Leslie are experts in their fields, have built relationships with our alumnae and community, and have assured us that neither the scope nor continuity of the Emma investigative process will be affected. We have great trust in their continued work.
In the meantime, should you wish to contact Gina or Leslie, please use their new contact information:
1650 Market Street
One Liberty Place, Suite 2800
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2799
1650 Market Street
One Liberty Place, Suite 2800
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2799
January 4, 2017
I want to remind you of some very important, large issues that we will be dealing with in the next few months. First of all, we are still actively engaged with the Philadelphia firm of Pepper Hamilton and communicate with them regularly about the ongoing investigation of the School's response to sexual assault or abuse reports throughout Emma Willard's long history. Their unrestricted audit of our school's history will help us build community and establish even healthier boundary standards and practices for our current and future students. There is no set date for the release of the Pepper Hamilton report but I know that they are working diligently and we expect it to be completed early this spring. We have asked them for a candid and frank assessment and consistent with our committment, their report will be shared publicly with the Emma community. I will keep the community informed as soon as I have more information.
We continue to receive ongoing responses from Emma Willard School alumnae as part of the unrestricted external audit of Emma's past response to reports of misconduct and abuse. We are grateful to those who have reached out directly by telephone, email and through the anonymous online site created by counsel, and encourage anyone who has information to share to contact child protection experts Leslie Gomez and Gina Smith directly. The investigation continues to move steadily forward and we would like to ensure that all voices are heard in this process.
There is no deadline for reporting information to Emma Willard School--we welcome the experiences of our current and former students and alumnae now and at any time in the future. In balancing a desire to move forward with a timely, comprehensive and thorough review, we encourage you to reach out to Leslie and/or Gina as soon as possible. They will be continuing to interview interested community members on an ongoing basis through the conclusion of their fact-gathering process, which we expect to be sometime late this fall. As we have previously shared, we have asked them to prepare a comprehensive report, and that report, with the exception of personally-identifiable information about individuals who have asked to remain anonymous, will be shared with the Emma community as written by Leslie, Gina and their team. While our goal is to gather as much information to inform that report as possible, given the nature of the issues under investigation, we understand that some community members may choose to share information after they have viewed the report. Please know that we will welcome concerns from our community members whenever they are shared with the school.
Participants who wish to contribute can submit information, anonymously or with contact information, to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Review_EWS
. No personally identifiable information is captured unless voluntarily offered in any of the comment fields. We are encouraging any submissions through the online forum by October 31
Counsel can also be contacted directly:
Continuous, On-Campus Programming
Health Classes: Sophomores in our health classes spend several sessions covering relationships, women's health, and sexual health. As part of this programming, girls are informed of issues including sexual assault and intimate partner violence, and are provided with examples of appropriate and inappropriate relationships, ways to negotiate relationships, and where to turn for assistance and support.
Student Leadership: Emma's student leaders--our Peer Educators and Proctors--undergo training on bystander intervention and how to assist should they witness any type of assault. Additionally, our Proctors educate girls on recognizing potentially unsafe or dangerous situations and what to do if help is needed.
Health & Wellness Center: Our Health & Wellness Center provides information on the prevention of sexual assault, both publicaly on display boards and in person via our nurses. Our nurses are also engaged in the delivery of the women's and sexual health sessions of our health classes. Emma Willard School also has counsellors on staff who provide relevant information and referrals to students who require it. Learn more about all the resources available in our Health & Wellness Center.
Senior Retreat: Before leaving Emma, seniors attend a two-day retreat where they attend an informational session on sexual assault on college campuses.