Last year, the Nichols School in Buffalo, New York hired a Washington D.C. law firm to conduct an investigation after the school received a report that a student was sexually abused by a teacher in the 1990s. The Nichols School is private, co-ed and open to grades 5-12. Locally, it is known as a prestigious school where tuition rates are about $22,000 per year.
Nichols School’s Private Investigation Into Reports of Sexual Misconduct by Teachers & Faculty
According to a 91 page report issued by the law firm, an investigation was initiated after the school received two letters from former students in May of 2017. The report is available on the school’s website.
One letter was from a student who alleged that she had a sexual relationship with a teacher while a student, in the 1990s. The other was from a student corroborating the relationship and indicating that the student “expressed her concerns…to senior administrators” at the school. This student further indicated that she was put off by the response and felt dismissed. Both students alleged that the events weren’t isolated and that there was a systemic culture of silence at the school.
The law firm conducted a six month investigation, interviewing 76 people, including 33 former students who attended the Nichols School between the 1960s and 1990s. The firm also interviewed nearly 20 current or former faculty members and over a dozen current or former staff members or administrators. In addition, the investigation included review of 1000s of pages of documents including personnel files of 29 employees of the school.
The report found credible instances of sexual misconduct or inappropriate behavior with students by nearly a dozen school faculty members. Specific cases involving multiple victims of two faculty members, Arthur Budington and E. Webster Dann, were discussed at length.
Budington taught at the school from the 1970s until 2006. With respect to Budington, the report identifies 4 victims. The report also indicates that teachers or school administrators knew about or suspected an inappropriate relationship between Budington and students, but failed to take appropriate action, “[I]t is difficult to understand how two administrators…would not have recognized and acted on the warning signs regarding Budington’s misconduct.” Report at page 29-30.
Dann, who died in 2017, was identified as having 6 victims, all of whom were pre-teens or young teens. While school officials were not seemingly aware of any actual reports of sexual misconduct on the part of Dann, “numerous” faculty members and school administrators knew that the teacher had spent “considerable” time outside the classroom with boys. Report at page 46.
Of note, the report details its findings that:
- school administrators knew of possible misconduct and failed to act appropriately,
- teachers were deterred from raising concerns about possible misconduct with school administrators, and
- teachers had heard about possible misconduct but did not know how to respond.
Call for Victims of Sex Abuse at the Nichols School & Any Witnesses to Come Forward
Based on the Nichols School private investigation, Laffey, Bucci & Kent is now investigating these cases for potential liability. Victims and witnesses are invited to contact the firm at 800.220.7600.
Laffey, Bucci & Kent is nationally recognized as a sex abuse victims’ law firm. Lawyers at the firm have handled high profile sex abuse and assault cases across the country, including lawsuits against schools, churches and medical professionals. Last year, the firm’s sex assault lawsuits against Massage Envy hit the national news, including Good Morning America and FOX News.