Park School Releases Report on Past Educator Abuse Claims

District Attorney Responds


Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - The Park School has released a report that details the findings of a seven-month investigation into alleged emotional and sexual abuse of Park School students by 12 adults from the 1950s to the 2000s.

The report ranged from "inappropriate, but nonsexual, verbal exchanges with teachers to entirely inappropriate relationships, some of which were sexual in nature. Two reporters conveyed inappropriate behavior by other Park students.” 

“The report’s findings are as upsetting as they are inexcusable,” school leaders wrote in a letter released Friday. “On behalf of the full board, we want to apologize to those students, and their families, for the emotional and/or sexual abuse they reported enduring at the hands of some of our school’s most trusted past faculty and staff."

Specific Allegations (Some victim names are listed in the report. Here, they are not named)

Leonard (Tom) D. Adkins Jr: Adkins was an English teacher from 1973 to 1986. Two people alleged inappropriate sexual behavior while two others said they were aware of "inappropriate advances towards male students by Adkins". Two people also said that, as students, they heard rumors that he had inappropriate conduct with male students.  Adkins denied any inappropriate conduct. 

Thomas J. Bailey: Bailey was a history teacher at Park from 1973 to 2006 and also served as the Assistant head of School during the mid-to-late 1980's. He was accused of sexual harassment by two women while a third woman said that Bailey's conduct gave male students permission to behave inappropriately. Bailey is dead.

E. Webster Dann: Web Dann was a math teacher who also worked in admissions and coached from 1971 to 1977. He's accused of inappropriate conduct with two male students and one female student. Dann is dead. 

Omar Dewitt: Dewitt was a math teacher in the late 1960's and early 1970's. He's accused of the verbal abuse of a female student to the point the entire class would laugh at her. Dewitt, who is still alive today, does not recall having her as a student and denied the accusations. 

Michael Dugan: Dugan was a physical education teacher from the 1970's until 2007. He's accused of fondling himself in front of a female student while she was trying to withdraw herself from the volleyball team. Dugan recalled the allegations in an interview for the report and denied them. The report also said that a board member inappropriately disclosed the girl's mental health issues to some male students and instructed them to keep their distance from her. 

Lynn Hebert: Hebert was a science teacher at Park in the 1960s and 1970s. Hebert was accused by a female student of being drunk during class. Hebert is dead. 

Michael Jackman: Jackman was a French teacher in the late 1980's. A female student reported that he allegedly sexually harassed her by writing notes on her papers about her looks. Jackman was fired at the end of the year but allegedly persisted with messages, asking the student to meet him at a hotel. Jackman denies the allegations. 

David Pisaro: Pisaro was a french teacher in the 1970's and also had an on-campus apartment. A female said Pisaro kissed her and forcefully pinned her to the ground. She resisted, told him no, and freed herself from his apartment. She never visited the apartment again and received a lower grade in his classroom. The student later targeted Pisaro's classroom for a senior prank, which escalated to vandalism because of her anger towards him. John Karrer, the Head of School at that time, was told by the female that Pisaro was sexually inappropriate, to which he responded "That's understandable because there are so many pretty girls here". Pisaro resigned that year. He is dead.

Dan A. Rose: Rose was a middle school science teacher at Park in the late 1960's. He's accused of having inappropriate contact with male students. He was rumored to have molested boys and one male student said that Rose showed them a movie about African tribes wearing sheaths on their penises and that after the movie, Rose showed them a statue of an individual wearing the sheath. He was fired from the school. Rose is still alive and did not respond to an interview. 

Doug White: White was a middle school teacher and Director of Outdoor Education during his employment from 1979 to 1988. White is accused of rubbing a male student's stomach as he fell asleep at night. White was later arrested for child pornography and indicted in 1989. He plead guilty in 1992 and sentenced to six months in prison. He is dead.

Peter Williamson: Williamson was employed at Park from 1973 to 1977 as a history and social science teacher. Williamson is accused of drinking and smoking with a female student and later touching her breast. On a separate occasion, he's accused of trying to touch the female student's genitals and continued to take other opportunities to touch her inappropriately, including kissing her and climbing on top of her. A male student said that Williamson supplied alcohol and marijuana to him. Williamson is no longer teaching.

Matthew Walter: Walter was a teacher in the 1990's who taught science and psychology. A female student accused Walter of sexual harassment, saying that "real men knew how attractive she was" and other lewd comments. Walter is also accused of a romantic relationship with another student during her senior year. He also made inappropriate sexual comments to a third student. Walter later resigned and left the education field. He declined to comment for the report.

Anonymous Female Teacher: A female teacher was fired for inappropriate relationships with two senior male students. Neither of the students came forward. 

Anonymous Coach: A 16-year-old female said that the coach began texting her and another female student naked photos. The coach began inviting them out to clubs. A father of one of the students discovered the messages, confronted the coach directly, and blocked the number. One of the female students said the coach was "overly aggressive, making contact with (her) pelvic region". 

Erwin Michael Chapin: Chapin was not a faculty member but was the nephew of then Head of School, "Bart" Chapin. He's accused of knocking a sixth grade girl to the ground in the late 50's and trying to kiss her. He also allegedly ripped her blouse off and pulled down her skirt and tried to have sex with her. 

Anonymous Visiting Speaker: The speaker came in several times to work with a junior level english class. A former student accused the speaker of taking LSD and finding the speaker having sex with a fellow classmate. 

Anonymous Male Student 1: The male student allegedly followed a female sophomore between classes and sat outside her classroom door. Other teachers were generally aware of the behavior. Tom Bailey (mentioned earlier) allegedly teased the female student about the incident. 

Anonymous Male Student 2: A female student who was in fifth grade saw a senior male student following her around campus, taking photographs of her, and waiting outside her classroom. Inappropriate notes were also in her locker saying things like "come learn about sex with me". The female student received the notes for several months and told her mother about it. A female teacher had to escort the female student from class to class until the senior male student graduated. The male student was told to stay away from her. 

Anonymous Male Student 3: A high school male student allegedly molested the same student who allegedly had sex with Anonymous Visiting Speaker while that girl was in elementary school in the 1950's. 

The report did not please some in law enforcement.

“I am deeply concerned about the report issued today by The Park School of Buffalo regarding allegations of abuse and misconduct by faculty members over the past 60 years," said Erie County District Attorney John Flynn in a statement. "I am concerned about the Park School’s lack of transparency because they refused to delay, even for a few days, the release of this report so that the District Attorney’s Office could review the report and the allegations and fully vet the extent of the Park School’s internal investigation."
The District Attorney said that the school notified his office of the report on Thursday, and that he had requested it be delayed so his office could conduct a thorough review of the report and meet with the Park School’s attorneys.

"Although the report details allegations that occurred outside the relevant statutes of limitations, the report being released without proper review and vetting by law enforcement may necessitate an investigation by the Erie County District Attorney’s Office," Flynn said.

In the report, 30 people recounted abuse at the hands of 12 faculty members, coaches, or staff who are named. Two other faculty members accused in the report were not publicly named.

Responding to the district attorney's statement, Park Schools released the following statement:

We are grateful that the District Attorney has indicated that he may further investigate these matters, and sincerely appreciate his commitment to protecting the victims, who courageously came forward to tell their stories.  Transparency and honesty with these stories have always been of paramount importance and the guiding focus of this work. The timing of the release of the report was in no way intended to affect his efforts. The Park School remains committed to working with the District Attorney’s office to assist it.

In a phone call to WBEN, Flynn said it was a diplomatic statement but reiterated that he wanted to be consulted before the release of the report so he could vet it.

"If they want to come in on Monday and talk to me on Monday and have a discussion about what they did, how they did it, I may have a change of tune," Flynn said. "But right now, I'm not happy about how this went down."

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