Dear Landon Community,


In December a year ago, we wrote to you with the difficult news that two alumni had disclosed personal stories of sexual abuse by a former, now-deceased Landon faculty member.  These were very serious and troubling reports, and we expressed to those two alumni our deepest remorse and sincerest apologies.  We also announced that we had retained T&M Protection Resources, an outside firm that specializes in investigating matters like this, to conduct an evaluation on behalf of Landon by serving as a third party investigator to receive and process any other similar reports or concerns.  T&M has concluded its investigation, and we write now both to share with you its findings and to convey steps that Landon has taken and will continue to take to ensure that our school is as safe a place as it can be for all who learn, teach, and work here.


Investigative Process


At the outset, we think it important to share with you the principles that have guided the investigative process.  T&M set up a separate telephone line and email address to receive any reports from the Landon community.  All reports were reviewed and evaluated by Laura Kirschstein, the head of the firm's Sexual Misconduct and Investigations Division.  Ms. Kirschstein was formerly an Assistant Deputy Attorney General in the Organized Crime Task Force of the New York State Attorney General's Office, and before that served as a senior sex crimes prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.  T&M assured all who contacted the firm that their identity would remain strictly confidential unless they provided specific authorization to share names with school leadership or unless disclosure was required by law.  The firm based its conclusions on firsthand reports of those with whom they spoke directly.  Overall, the firm received 30 calls and emails during the course of the investigation, and spoke directly with 26 individuals, either in person or by telephone. 


The Landon Board also created a task force of current and former Board members and current school officials to coordinate the school's response.  That task force, which was headed by the two of us, worked with T&M to ensure a fair, thorough, and confidential process for the investigation, to receive summaries of the investigation (without names of those reporting misconduct), and to coordinate the steps that the school would take to respond to the investigation.  The task force also worked with outside legal counsel to ensure compliance with all state and local laws regarding the reporting of sexual abuse to child protection agencies. 


Among the work done by the task force was determining the best way to share any findings and deciding whether to identify by name any individuals accused of sexual misconduct or other inappropriate behavior.  In doing so, the task force developed, with the guidance of T&M, a standard that takes into consideration, among other variables, whether there were multiple credible firsthand accounts, the severity and nature of the behavior, and the risk of unintentional disclosure of witness identities.  A paramount concern for both the task force and T&M was to ensure and maintain the confidentiality of witnesses and to make decisions that would serve as deterrents to such behaviors happening again.




Based on all of the above, we now have the regrettable task of reporting to you that in the months since our initial letter, T&M received additional reports — now from a total of seven alumni — of sexual abuse by the Lower School teacher whose conduct initially prompted this investigation.  This teacher, whom we now identify as Mr. Ward Bates, taught at the school from 1946 to 1962, and passed away in 2011.  The reports were highly credible and similar in many disturbing respects.  According to these alumni, Mr. Bates engaged in repeated direct sexual touching of students and/or leading students to do the same to him.  Much of this conduct is reported to have taken place in the classroom, but T&M also received reports of Bates engaging in sexual misconduct outside of school, including sexual advances toward and sexual contact with a student.


Mr. Bates also worked as a counselor at Camp Wachusett in New Hampshire during the summer while a teacher at Landon, and after leaving Landon in 1962, taught at the Blake School in Minnesota until 1976.  We have shared T&M's findings about his conduct with the leadership of both institutions.


Words do not suffice to describe the great sorrow and anger we feel in learning of this abuse.  Parents place their faith in educators to keep their children safe, but these boys — now men in their 60s and 70s — have lived with these memories for decades.  No child here or anywhere should experience this kind of horrific mistreatment, and we again extend to these men our sincerest remorse and apologies.  We have also reached out through T&M to each of the men who reported experiencing this abuse, asking whether we can extend our words of support and apology in person.


We have not received any evidence that Landon's administration was aware of this abuse at the time it occurred.  It has been reported to us by one of the men abused by Mr. Bates that his conduct was shared with a school official in or around 2007.  We and T&M have investigated this report thoroughly but cannot determine with confidence who at the school may have been contacted.  That said, it does appear that the school was made aware of Mr. Bates's conduct at that time, and it appears that no concrete action was taken as a result.  Despite the lack of clarity around this 2007 report, we can say that steps should have been taken by the school to investigate and report on the issue at that time, and we apologize that they were not.   


While Mr. Bates was the subject of the bulk of the misconduct reports received by T&M, it also received credible information from one alumnus about sexual abuse, including direct sexual contact, committed by another long-deceased faculty member that took place off-campus in the 1970s.  Because this was a single report about this teacher, we are not sharing his name here.  But we have also reached out to that alumnus through T&M, asking if we might be able to meet to learn more about his experience and extend in person our deepest apologies and support. 


It is important to note that T&M received no reports of sexual misconduct with regard to any current faculty or staff.  The firm did receive a single complaint about a now discontinued teaching practice by a current faculty member that was not sexual in nature, several reports of corporal punishment by Lower School teachers in the 1950s and 60s, and one account of a former teacher crossing professional boundaries with a student in the 1970s.  While these reports were troubling, T&M determined that none of them was sexual abuse and that they were of a different nature than those that gave rise to this inquiry.  Lastly, T&M received several second-hand and third-hand reports of potential sexual misconduct by two former employees in the early 2000s, but due to a lack of information, corroborating evidence, and actual accusations from any individuals with firsthand knowledge of such behavior, T&M was unable to make any findings that misconduct occurred. 


Even though this investigative process has been thorough and strictly confidential, we recognize that it may not have identified all instances of sexual misconduct in the school's history.  Some alumni may not have received our initial letter or otherwise learned of our investigation, and others may have decided that they simply do not want to relive or recount something that may have happened to them.  The fact that we are sending this letter to the community now does not mean that we are closed to receiving additional reports.  Our goal is to remain ever vigilant in safeguarding the community, and Laura Kirschstein at T&M (landonschool@tmprotection.comremains open to any others who may have relevant information to share. 


Current Steps


While this effort has shed light on some terrible behaviors of the past, it has also led us to evaluate what we do currently to ensure that none of these kinds of things ever happens here again.  The safety and well-being of our boys is and will remain our highest priority, and we are pleased to share that there is much to report on this front as well.


Last year when we alerted the community to the initial reports from our alumni, Jim Neill and our counselors met with all of the boys by Division to let them know, in age appropriate ways, that we were looking into reports of past unacceptable behaviors, to assure them that our school is a safe place, and to remind them of what they should do if they ever feel like they are in an unsafe circumstance with an adult.  This will be done again with the release of this letter.  We also convened a Safety Committee comprised of faculty and staff with safety-related responsibilities to evaluate and update in a holistic way safety and security related procedures, practices, and trainings throughout the school. 


This work has led us to continue to educate our boys about, and to begin to develop new programming for the boys related to, appropriate boundaries and behaviors by adults and how to avoid and/or respond to any questionable behaviors with or by adults.  We are also continuing to provide faculty and staff with trainings that will protect the boys and the employees themselves.  These trainings have related to: appropriate student-teacher boundaries; defining unacceptable behaviors; avoiding situations that could be compromising; mandated reporter requirements; identifying signs of both sexual abuse and sexual harassment; and generally how we as educators can keep such behaviors out of our community.  Our trainings include those led by our own counselors, provided by outside experts in the field, and offered through online resources.


We also are reviewing certain policies and human resources practices.  This includes updated internal procedures for responding to any reports of unacceptable behaviors as well as expanding background checks beyond new employees.  With regard to the latter topic, our background checks are now completed on an ongoing basis, as opposed to just upon hiring, for all current employees and review not only criminal records but also social media activity.


All of this we will continue to do as we work to ensure Landon remains a safe and healthy place not only for the 670 boys who are entrusted to our care, but also for the hundreds of adults who work, teach, and serve on our campus.  We continue to recommend resources such as, the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization, and from the American Academy of Pediatrics, to any parents wishing some guidance about speaking with their sons on these matters.  Our school counselors and nurse (Andy Rhein, Justin Roman, and Julie Acebal) remain resources as well.  And of course, should any parents have a concern or information they feel the school needs to hear, please do not hesitate to contact one of our counselors, one of our Division Heads (Ehren Federowicz, Erin Duffy, or Randy Bednar), or Jim Neill to discuss those concerns. 


Everything we do at Landon is ultimately directed to the core goal of developing our boys into caring and responsible men who will make a positive difference in the world.  We thank you for your continued support of and belief in the school and its mission.  We take that trust extremely seriously and work hard to earn it every day.





Scott Harris                                                     Jim Neill

Chair, Board of Trustees                                 Headmaster

Landon School, 6101 Wilson Lane, Bethesda, MD 20817, 301-320-3200

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