A former student at Deerfield Academy in western Massachusetts filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday alleging he was sexually abused decades ago by a math teacher who was the focus of a 2013 investigation into misconduct allegations.
Moss Krivin, 50, of Los Angeles, alleges that Peter Hindle raped him in 1979 when he was 14 years old after the teacher invited him to his residence on campus. Hindle, who also served as a dorm master at the elite boarding school, allegedly told the student to keep the episode a secret or he would be punished.
Krivin's lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian of Boston, said that his client's life spiraled out of control afterward, and that he left Deerfield following his second year. Krivin has struggled with depression, suicidal thoughts, and panic attacks but came forward after other allegations against Hindle surfaced in 2013.
"It was one incident of rape, which has forever changed my client's life,'' said Garabedian, who has represented many victims of the clergy sex abuse scandal.
The suit also said three unnamed officials at Deerfield negligently hired and supervised Hindle.
Krivin was a New York native whose surname was Steinberg when he attended Deerfield. He later took his mother's maiden name.
Hindle, who taught at Deerfield from 1956 to 2000, said he vaguely recalled Steinberg but had no memory of the student ever visiting his residence, much less having sexual contact with him. "This is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard,'' said Hindle, 81, of Dartmouth.
Following a 2013 investigation by a law firm it had hired, Deerfield wrote the school community that Hindle had admitted to sexual contact with a student. The school also wrote that a second student alleged that Hindle had engaged in inappropriate behavior with him in the 1980s. Krivin was neither of those students.
David Thiel, a Deerfield spokesman, said Tuesday that school officials could not comment on Krivin's lawsuit. But he said officials have taken steps to prevent sexual abuse on campus by bolstering training and policies and by providing more information to students and to employees in the handbooks they receive.
Krivin entered the school in 1979 as as freshman. That year, he alleged, Hindle invited him to his residence, where the teacher fondled him, performed oral sex on him, and then raped him.
After Krivin heard about allegations against Hindle a few years ago, he reported the episode to the Northwestern district attorney's office, but the statute of limitations for prosecution had expired.
District Attorney David E. Sullivan said in a statement Thursday that there was substantial credible evidence of improper sexual contact by Hindle with students decades ago.
"During this era, it is clear that Deefield Academy had few if any safeguards for protecting youth from its most trusted adults, their teachers,'' Sullivan said.
Garabedian represented another unnamed former student who alleged that Hindle molested him at Deerfield in the late 1980s. That matter, which didn't result in a lawsuit, was settled out of court for $350,000, Garabedian said.
Deerfield has also concluded that there was sufficient evidence to say that another faculty member, Bryce Lambert, was alleged to have had inappropriate sexual contact with students, according to the letter to the school community. Lambert is now deceased.
Another former Deerfield student, Christopher Obetz, alleged in a federal suit in Connecticut last year that Hindle and another school official negligently supervised Lambert in the 1980s, enabling Lambert to sexually abuse him.
Obetz alleged that Lambert abused him numerous times on school trips for golf and squash matches against other prep schools around New England and New York state.
That suit recently settled out of court for $500,000, according to Garabedian, who represented Obetz.
Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.