Bloomberg Law
Free Newsletter Sign Up
Bloomberg Law
Advanced Search Go
Free Newsletter Sign Up

Elite Prep School Hit with Another Sex Abuse Lawsuit

Oct. 15, 2018, 4:29 PM

A former student at The Hotchkiss School, an exclusive college preparatory school in Connecticut, was drugged and sexually assaulted by a former teacher, according to a newly filed federal lawsuit.

The Oct. 12 complaint by the former student—identified only as “Richard Roe"—is the latest sexual abuse case filed against the boarding school alleging there was “rampant” sexual abuse on the 827-acre campus, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s.

Roy Smith, who taught English at Hotchkiss from 1970 to 2000 and died in 2014, “inappropriately touched Richard on several occasions, and ultimately drugged and sexually assaulted him,” the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut states.

Roe’s negligence complaint also alleges a broader culture, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s, in which “rampant sexual abuse—of boys and girls—by faculty was widely known by students, faculty, and administrators.”

A “circle of silence” also prioritized the school’s reputation by discouraging and retaliating against students who reported abuse, he says.

An August investigative report by Locke Lord LLP, a law firm commissioned by Hotchkiss to conduct an independent inquiry, “substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct by seven former faculty members” against 16 former students from 1969 to 1992.

“Members of the Hotchkiss administration were aware of at least some of the instances of sexual misconduct at the time it was occurring,” the report states.

Roe’s lawsuit joins another by a former student alleging sexual abuse by Smith, as well as by classmates at the school in Lakeville, Conn., nestled in the northwest corner of Connecticut.

Recent court filings in that 2015 case by “John Doe,” which is in pretrial discovery, also reveal Hotchkiss has reached confidential settlements with other former students.

The school argued Sept. 19 that it was unable to disclose the terms of those settlements because it was “required by the contractual terms of these agreements to maintain them in confidence.”

Notable alumni of the school, founded in 1891 as a boys’ boarding school, include author Archibald MacLeish, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, and actress Allison Janney according to the school’s website.

The Hotchkiss School didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Berstein LLP represented Roe.

The case is Roe v. The Hotchkiss School, D. Conn., No. 18-cv-01701, filed 10/12/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven M. Sellers in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at