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Alarming Rape Action Against CT Prep School

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (CN) - A federal complaint accuses a Connecticut prep school of turning a blind eye to a student who was beaten, drugged and raped on campus.

John Doe claims in the Feb. 5 complaint that he fell prey to the "tradition" at the school of upper classmen "subjecting younger students to sexualized hazing" at the Hotchkiss School.

Some of these abusers were "school-appointed senior dormitory proctors," according to the complaint. Doe says others would root on these proctors as they "forced [him] to lower his pants and underwear to his ankles and to bend over."

The proctors would then "hit his naked buttocks and testicles repeatedly with a wooden paddle, and they forcibly inserted objects into his anus," the complaint continues.

Doe says he reported the sexual assaults, but that his faculty dormitory corridor advised him only "to try to earn the respect of the older students who were assaulting him."

"The corridor master also told John that complaining about the hazing and assaults would not be a good start for John's reputation at the school," the complaint alleges.

Other teachers actually participated in the abuse, Doe says, taking aim at former teacher and dormitory master Roy G. Smith aka Uncle Roy.

In addition to residing in a dormitory-connected apartment, Smith's job in an athletic training room near the boys' locker room in the gym allowed him "to inspect, massage, touch and leer at the naked and partially naked bodies of young school boys," the complaint alleges.

Doe says that "on several occasions, Smith inspected, massaged and fondled John in inappropriate and sexualized ways, including on several occasions reaching into John's shorts and touching John's penis and scrotum."

When Doe was 15, "Roy Smith went further: he invited John into his apartment in the late evening hours, drugged John into semi-unconsciousness with a pill that he misrepresented as an aspirin, and anally raped John while he was helpless and alone," the complaint alleges.

As he came to during the attack, Doe says he realized "his pants and underwear around his feet, face down on Smith's sofa, with Smith over him pushing himself into [his] anus."

Doe says he eventually regained consciousness, "pulled up his pants, stumbled out into the dormitory hallway, then to a dorm bathroom where he vomited, and then returned to his dorm room."

Though he reported the rape to several people, the school never took action against Smith, according to the complaint.

Doe allegedly tried to prompt reaction by writing an article about his abuse for the school newspaper. After receiving a copy of the article, however, the headmaster told Doe that he was "already aware of [his] complaints" and forbade him from publishing the piece, according to the complaint.

The headmaster then allegedly "threatened to tell John's parents that John was homosexual if he complained publicly about the rape.

Doe says the abuse he suffered at Hotchkiss has made him "unable to lead and enjoy a normal life" or "maintain lasting meaningful relationships with others."

Hotchkiss' Head of School Kevin Hicks and Jeannie Weinberg Rose, president of the school's board of trustees, said in a joint statement on Thursday after the lawsuit was filed that "the behavior described in the lawsuit is thoroughly abhorrent and completely contrary to Hotchkiss' values, then and now."

"Healthy relationships-among students and between students and adults-are the foundation of the Hotchkiss experience, and our commitment to students' safety and wellbeing is absolute," the statement continues.

Hotchkiss said it is also working with an independent law firm to investigate the claims. It told the Hartford Courant that Smith has recently died.

Doe allegedly started attending the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville in the 1980s when he was 14 years old.

The school was founded in 1891 as "a private college-preparatory boarding school for grades nine through 12," the complaint states.

Doe seeks unspecified damages for negligence, recklessness and breach of fiduciary duty. He is represented by Antonio Ponvert III with Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder.

The filing against Hotchkiss is actually the third lawsuit filed by Ponvert in recent months against Connecticut boarding schools.

Ponvert has filed two similar lawsuits against the Indian Mountain School , also located in Lakeville, alleging similar instances of sexual assaults and rapes of young schoolboys by faculty members that also occurred in the 1980s.

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