August 5, 2016
Dear Fordham Prep Community,
We write to share some troubling news about one of our faculty members.
Toward the end of the 2015-16 school year, we received an allegation from a Fordham Prep alumnus of the class of 1984 that religious studies teacher, Mr. Fernand Beck, sexually molested him shortly after he graduated.
While Mr. Beck has denied this allegation, an investigation led by an independent counsel retained by Fordham Prep determined that the allegation is credible. As a result, and in accordance with our policies, Mr. Beck will not return to Fordham Prep.
As a Jesuit school, we are founded on the principle of cura personalis and have no higher priority than the safety and well-being of our students.
The process we undertook in responding to this allegation is based on our established policies and best practices:
- We immediately reported the allegation to law enforcement authorities.
- We alerted the Archdiocese of New York and the USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus (UNE Province of the Jesuits).
- We notified Fordham Prep’s board of trustees and kept them apprised of all the steps we have taken.
- We consulted long-term legal counsel representing Fordham Prep and the UNE Province.
- We retained the well-respected firm of Day Pitney, LLP as an independent counsel to lead an investigation in order to determine the credibility of the allegation.
- We suspended Mr. Beck with pay during the investigation.
Though the underlying events of this allegation are decades old, we understand that Mr. Beck’s departure and our letter may raise questions and concerns among parents, students, faculty and staff and alumni. Please be assured that we are available to listen and to support you in any way we can. So that we may respond to you in a timely manner, please contact us at (718) 584-8594 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As school is not in session, parents and guardians will play a key role in communicating the news of Mr. Beck’s departure to our students. In the coming weeks, we ask parents and guardians to please consider reviewing this letter with your sons, together with Fordham Prep’s policies for the protection of students which are included in the appendix of the 2016-17 Student and Parent Handbook. As always, once the school year begins, our counselors, psychologist and social worker are available to any student in need of additional support for any reason.
Fordham Prep will not and does not tolerate inappropriate teacher-student relationships and we treat seriously any allegation of harm against any student, whether present or past. The student-teacher relationship is at the heart of Fordham Prep’s Ignatian tradition and our mission of faith, scholarship and service. We are proud of the care that our teachers demonstrate toward their students.
Fordham Prep has in place rigorous policies to promote healthy, appropriate professional boundaries between faculty and students and to create a safe environment in which every student is protected, cared for and valued. We developed and reviewed these policies in consultation with nationally recognized experts in the field of sexual abuse prevention. Our faculty and staff members have undergone training in sexual abuse prevention and professional boundaries and acknowledged that they will comply with our policies. In addition, every faculty and staff member has successfully completed a criminal background check.
In light of this difficult news, the pain that it causes, and the healing we seek, we ask that you join us in praying for the Fordham Prep community. May we renew our faith in the Risen Christ whose Spirit has the power to heal and reconcile us, bind us together and continue to form us into men and women for others.