St. George's School Administrator Put on Leave
By Karen Lee Ziner
April 7, 2016
St. George's School placed an administrator on leave in January as an independent investigator began examining systemic sexual abuse at the elite Episcopal school, the school said in a letter to alumni Wednesday. State police are also investigating those allegations against half a dozen former faculty members and several students, largely in the 1970s and '80s.
The allegations against Bob Weston, current Associate Head for External Affairs, stem from his conduct as a dorm parent in the 1990s, and concern "Mr. Weston observing appropriate boundaries with students," the letter from Headmaster Eric F. Peterson and Board Chair Leslie B. Heaney states.
"As you know, the independent investigation into sexual abuse at St. George's led by Martin F. Murphy is underway and fully supported by the School. While that inquiry proceeds, we are committed to keeping our community informed on these important matters," the letter states.
Once school administrators and the board received the allegations, "the decision was made to place Mr. Weston on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation, and the appropriate authorities were informed. Since the independent investigation was beginning at this same time, we asked Mr. Murphy and his team, whose work is ongoing, to include this matter in their inquiry."
The letter said the school's "paramount concern is to ensure that St. George's is a healthy and safe environment for all. It is important to note, however, that we also believe in due process. Finally, we felt it was important that you hear this information from the School, in a manner that is sensitive to all parties involved."
Weston's attorney, Paul Kelly, of the Boston law firm Jackson Lewis, said Thursday in an email to The Journal: "My client, Bob Weston, has done nothing wrong, and the notice issued yesterday by the school has resulted in unfair and unfavorable press attention. He was a loyal and good soldier for the school and agreed to what he understood would likely be a very short period of administrative leave while the independent investigator reviewed the specious allegation against him. It has now been four months, and unfortunately he is still in limbo.
"Once someone actually takes the time to review the dated hearsay allegation against him, I have every confidence that he will be cleared of this unsupported innuendo. This is a very decent man and committed educator," Kelly said, alleging his client "now finds himself the victim of character assassination originating from a biased source."
Anne Scott, of the alumni/victims' group SGS for Healing, said Thursday, "I'm encouraged that the school has learned to inform the appropriate authorities ... but I do wonder why they waited eight weeks to inform the larger community that Robert Weston had been placed on leave for these reasons." She added, "We need to find out when they moved" Weston from dorm parent to administrator, "because the letter does not say. The allegations pertains to the late '90s. He’s been at the school until present day."
Rhode Island State Police ask anyone with information relevant to the St. George's School investigation to contact Maj. Joseph F. Philbin, detective commander, at 444-1005.