Former Deerfield Academy teacher facing fourth sexual abuse charge

  • Deerfield Academy. A fourth alleged sexual abuse victime has filed civil charges against a former teacher at the academy. Recorder File photo

For the Gazette
Tuesday, November 01, 2016

DEERFIELD — A fourth alleged sexual abuse victim has filed civil charges against former Deerfield Academy teacher Peter Hindle.

According to court records, the lawsuit was filed by “John Doe” in Bristol Superior Court on Sep. 8 against 82-year-old Hindle, who lives in Dartmouth.

Hindle was a teacher at Deerfield Academy for about 44 years, beginning in 1956. During that time, he also worked as a “coach, dormitory master, counselor, and supervisor of young boys.” In the 1980s, according the lawsuit, the alleged victim, 16 at the time, lived in the dorm that Hindle supervised.

“Defendant Peter Hindle engaged in explicit sexual behavior and lewd and lascivious conduct with the plaintiff in the plaintiff’s dormitory room at Deerfield Academy,” reads a 12-page complaint filed in the courthouse.

Along with the allegations against Hindle, charges in the suit also point to “an unidentified Deerfield Academy supervisor or former supervisor.”

Robert M. Hoatson, co-founder and president of Road to Recovery, a New Jersey-based nonprofit charity that assists sexual abuse victims and their families, said the name of the unidentified supervisor is currently being sought. The court document identifies the second defendant as “an individual the identity of whom is presently unknown to the plaintiff.”

“One has to wonder where the supervisors of Peter Hindle were, and why weren’t they supervising Hindle in order to protect the victims,” said Boston-based Attorney Mitchell Garabedian on Tuesday, who’s representing the unidentified plaintiff.

Garabedian said he has in the past and is currently representing four of Hindle’s alleged victims, who were allegedly abused sexually “spanning a period from approximately 1974 to 1985.” The plaintiffs, who were ages 14 to 16 at the time, are now in their 40s and 50s.

“Educators have a lot to learn when it comes to protecting children from sexual predators,” Garabedian continued, adding, “by agreeing to follow a lawsuit ‘John Doe’ has empowered himself, others and made the world a safer place for children.”

Sexual abuse allegations

“Here’s another example of a courageous young man who has come forward after experiencing trauma,” Hoatson said Tuesday, a day after a statement was released by his organization which identifies the plaintiff, “John Doe,” as an anonymous “childhood sexual abuse victim.”

Hoatson said the allegations were not immediately publicized to give the alleged victim time to prepare for public scrutiny.

“We’re guessing that there were probably many more victims,” Hoatson continued, noting that as a result of the lawsuit ”someone reading this right now might come forward because they know they’re not alone.” In response to the most recent abuse allegations, Deerfield Academy Spokesman David Thiel said the school has a policy of declining to comment on specific cases “out of respect for the survivors.”

Since Hindle left the school in 2000, three other complaints have been brought against him claiming childhood sexual abuse. Deerfield Academy investigated abuse allegations in 2013 through a law firm and found that at least two students had been abused.

Hoatson said the other cases are too old to prosecute criminally, but added that this case might be different. As a result, and despite the allegations, Hindle has not been criminally charged. A few months ago in August the school paid a $200,000 settlement to one of those alleged victims.

In response to “John Doe’s” accusations, Hindle told a reporter from Southern New England-based NBC 10 News, “he can say that. It’s not true. He’s trying to get money out of me.”