Report: Decades of sex abuse at Portland private school

Education

Investigation commissioned by the Catlin Gabel school’s board of trustees

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An explosive 16-page report details 40 years of sexual misconduct at a Portland private school.

The report, released Wednesday by the Catlin Gabel School’s board of trustees and carried out by independent investigator Lori Watson, lists allegations of sexual abuse against students by nine former teachers and staff members, six of whom are named. It also details dozens of additional allegations of misconduct.

The six named teachers are accused of inappropriately touching and groping students as young as elementary school. Others are accused of having sex with students, one of whom was in middle school at the time.

The exact number of victims, many now in their 50s and 60s, may never be known.

One of the teachers is Deonte Huff. He was a PE teacher and coached middle school volleyball. He was convicted of sexual abuse in 2013 after he had sexual contact with a student at his apartment.

Catlin Gabel is working to provide counseling for survivors. The Sexual Assault Resource Center in Beaverton is offering free counseling services, support groups and a hotline connecting callers with mental health professionals.

The center’s Executive Director Amy Beard encouraged anyone who has experienced trauma to seek help.

“It’s never too late to come forward,” she said. “People need support when they are going through trauma and that’s true if the trauma happened five minutes ago or five decades ago.”

SARC crisis hotline: 503.640.5311

Catlin Gabel’s board of trustees sent the following letter, in part, to the abuse victims and the school community:

“Having reviewed the entire report of the investigation, Catlin Gabel’s Board of Trustees has been deeply affected, shocked, and saddened by your stories. Please accept our heartfelt apology for what you endured. Our apology extends to any survivors of misconduct at Catlin Gabel, as we appreciate that some survivors may not have wanted to be part of our investigation. We respect that decision. It is important to us that every survivor is empowered to tell their story their way, and we are open to hear those stories at any time.

“We acknowledge and accept responsibility for the harm that occurred. We recognize that the harm was caused not only by individual educators who engaged in misconduct but also by the school’s culture. We are grateful to you for taking the risk that we would believe you, for speaking out, and for asking the school to re-examine its culture. It was because you stepped forward and shared your powerful stories that we launched the investigation.”

The board said Catlin Gabel has made changes in recent years to allow students to report abuse and teach them more about consent. They promised to continue working to strengthen existing policies to prevent misconduct and said a fund is being established to help victims with therapy costs.

Catlin Gabel said it’s also working with RAINN, the country’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800.656.4673

Read a report on the findings below.

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