The Rockport school superintendent placed a middle school guidance counselor on indefinite administrative leave Tuesday after he was recently accused of groping two students decades ago while working at the private Landmark School in Beverly.
Hours after the action against Howard J. Kasper was announced, the Landmark School acknowledged that it has been “receiving information’’ in response to its mass mailing last week asking for anyone with information about sexual abuse at Landmark to contact the school.
Also on Tuesday, the two men who last week publicly accused Kasper of the molestation said they have been contacted by numerous other former Landmark students since the Globe first reported the allegations last Wednesday.
Using two newly created Facebook pages to facilitate the contacts, Brant Davis and David G. Breed said they have been told of instances of sexual abuse by Kasper and at least six other former Landmark teachers and administrators that allegedly occurred as far back as the 1970s.
Superintendent Robert E. Liebow’s decision to put Kasper, who has worked in Rockport since 2000, on paid leave was made after he met Monday with Kasper and his attorney. Tuesday morning, Liebow met with Breed and Davis, who have recounted separate incidents in which they said Kasper inappropriately touched them in 1979 and 1984, respectively.
Last week, Landmark’s headmaster, Robert J. Broudo, sent e-mails to 4,200 members of the Landmark community alerting them to the allegations and asking them to contact the school if they have information to share.
Thomas Guiney, who is Kasper’s attorney, said his client will not comment. Kasper, he said, “has cooperated fully’’ with the Rockport inquiry. Guiney said he would not comment further.
Liebow, in an open letter to Rockport’s public school community, said the school system has reached no final conclusions, but said he took the action “because of the serious nature of the accusations and the high level of concern in the school community.’’
He added that there have been no accusations lodged by Rockport students over the past 12 years, or since the allegations surfaced last week.
Naomi R. Stonberg, the attorney for the Rockport public schools, said in an interview Tuesday that when Kasper was hired by Rockport 12 years ago, there was no hint in his file of any problems during his years at Landmark, a boarding school for students with serious learning disabilities.
“His references were all excellent,’’ Stonberg said.
Brant Davis, one of the two men who have come forward, said he considered Liebow’s action “a necessary first step.’’ While some former students have contacted the school, according to Davis, he and Breed are compiling their own evidence since they doubt the school wants a full unveiling of the evidence of past sexual misconduct.
Last week, Landmark’s president and headmaster, Robert J. Broudo, sent e-mails to 4,200 members of the Landmark community, to include past students, alerting them to the allegations and asking them to contact the school if they have information to share.
In that letter and in an interview, Broudo said that when Breed first told him in the early 1990s that Kasper had tried to put his hands down his pants in 1979, he confronted Kasper. But he said that Kasper vociferously denied doing so and that Breed said he did not want to press the issue. Breed, for his part, said he twice reported what happened, in 1992 and again in 2004, but he never heard back from the school.
Breed approached Landmark again on July 12, after reading the recent devastating report commissioned by Penn State University looking into the long-running coverup of sexual abuse by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Meanwhile, the Rockport decision places Kasper, who is 57, in legal limbo. He has not been formally charged with a crime or named in a lawsuit. Liebow, in his letter, said that Kasper, who was identified in the letter only as an employee, is being afforded due process, and that the resolution will be “in the best interests of the Rockport public schools.’’
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