A former teacher and coach at the North Baltimore’s private Gilman School sexually abused multiple students in the 1990s and the school acknowledged it could have done more to reach out to his victims.
In an email sent to alumni and parents Thursday and obtained by The Baltimore Sun, Headmaster Henry P.A. Smyth wrote that Dr. Martin Meloy, a former seventh and eighth grade science teacher at the school who died in 2015, “engaged in sexually abusive behavior with Gilman students on separate occasions at his Baltimore County home” in the 1990s.
The school did not say how many students Meloy is alleged to have abused, and attempts to contact school officials were unsuccessful Thursday.
Smyth wrote that several victims approached the school in November 2008 to tell them about the abuse, which led to the firing of Meloy.
The school reported the allegations to the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office, Smyth wrote, “which reached a non-prosecution agreement with Meloy in February 2009, ensuring he would not have unsupervised contact with minors.”
State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said the agreement also forced Meloy to resign from the teaching position.
Shellenberger said his office investigated but given the gap between when the incidents occurred and when the individuals reported, he felt like there was not enough evidence to prosecute.
“We believed the victims and we still do,” said Shellenberger, who handled the case during his first term in office. “But at the time we felt like that was a sufficient amount of protection for the community.”
If more victims come forward, Shellenberger said his office won’t be able to prosecute because Meloy is dead.
Attempts by The Baltimore Sun to reach Meloy’s family were not successful.
While the letter appears to be the first public acknowledgment of the allegations against the late Meloy, the school said it was spurred to address the topic by a survivor who had reached out to the school again recently about how school officials handled the investigation into Meloy.
Smyth wrote that, at the time the allegations first arose, the school’s first priorities were “removing Meloy from any involvement with students and promptly reporting Meloy’s behavior to the authorities.”
However, after speaking with one of the survivors recently, Smyth wrote that the school failed to take proper steps to identify the scope of Meloy’s abuse and try to find additional survivors.
“Together, we considered the situation through the lens of society’s evolving recognition and understanding of both the great harm caused by such abusive relationships and best practices for prevention of and response to such abuse,” Smyth wrote.
“With the benefit of hindsight, we realize that we could have done more; specifically, we could have taken steps to determine if any other students had been harmed by Meloy’s grave violation of our students’ trust,” he wrote.
The Evening Sun Newsletter
Get your evening news in your e-mail inbox. Get all the top news and sports from the baltimoresun.com.
As a result, the school has partnered with T&M Protection Resources, a New York-based company that advertises a number of investigative services on its website, including investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct.
“After careful thought, we have concluded that we have a responsibility to pursue a full understanding of the nature and extent of abuse experienced,” wrote Smyth, adding that T&M will “conduct a thorough, third-party investigation.”
The results of that investigation will be given to a committee formed by the school’s board of trustees, Smyth wrote. He added that, upon its completion, “we will update the community on any pertinent information.”
Smyth wrote that he will address Upper School and Middle School students Friday about the situation and that school counselors are being made available to talk with students about the topic.
“As disturbing as this case is, we must learn from it so that we may continuously strengthen the pursuit of our mission,” Smyth wrote in finishing his letter.