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WASHINGTON — A private school in Maryland has launched an investigation into allegations that a culture of sexual abuse flourished decades ago with administrators’ knowledge.

Multiple former students told The Washington Post they were groomed and sexually abused by teachers in the 1970s at Key School in Annapolis, and in some cases had intimate contact with adults that lasted years.

Two Baltimore lawyers are leading the investigation into the alleged misconduct at the school, which serves students from prekindergarten through 12th grade. Matthew Nespole, the current head of school, said this month that a February review of the allegations indicated former Key officials failed to protect students.


‘‘It appears that members of the Key community neglected to respond appropriately to contemporaneous reports made by former students of faculty misconduct that includes the sexual victimization of students,’’ the statement said.

The allegations surfaced after 59-year-old Carolyn Surrick, who said she was abused by two Key teachers starting when she was 13, fought for years to shine a spotlight on her story and those of other accusers.

She wrote about the alleged abuse on social media in January. One other accuser had spoken publicly before Surrick’s campaign this year. Five additional women later came forward.

Surrick and other accusers said it was widely known that some Key teachers had sex with underage students.

Some teachers were fired after complaints from students or parents, according to interviews with accusers. But many stayed in the classroom, continuing the alleged abuse.