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Baltimore's elite Park School reports a former teacher inappropriately touched students

A former middle school teacher at the elite Park School of Baltimore inappropriately touched and engaged in troubling behaviors with students in the 1980s, according to an independent investigation commissioned by the school.

Alfred H. Siemon II, a Park School teacher from 1967 to 1987, engaged in “inappropriate physical touching, touching of a sexual nature, and boundary crossing” behaviors with a former middle school student, according to a May 17 email sent by Dan Paradis, head of the independent Park School, and board president Betsy Berner.

Siemon, who died in 2011, was “emotionally manipulative, grooming, and predatory” toward the student, according to the email, which was sent to the school community, including alumni and faculty.

The Park School did not return multiple calls and messages seeking additional comment.

The investigation also found Siemon had engaged in a “general pattern” of inappropriate physical touching and “boundary crossing” with female middle school students, according to the email.

See also: McDonogh School finds evidence that former faculty members allegedly assaulted students over several decades »

The Park School, a progressive K-12 school in Brooklandville, announced last October that it had engaged the New York-based T&M Protection Resources firm to investigate the allegations. The school reached out to 7,000 community members, asking them to contact the firm, which specializes in misconduct investigations.

The investigation included interviews with 17 Park alumni, current and former Park faculty, staff, administrators, parents of a former student, and former members of the Park Board of Trustees, according to the email. Investigators also reviewed school personnel files, student files, emails and yearbooks.

Siemon died in 2011 at 65 years old, according to a memorial service announcement at the Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium. The announcement mentioned that he was also a teacher at the Sylvan Learning Center.

Officials with Sylvan did not respond to messages from The Baltimore Sun.

The investigation found that Park administrators were aware of the inappropriate conduct by Siemon beginning in the early 1980s, and did not do enough to curtail it.

“At the time, senior administrators implemented steps to limit Siemon’s access to the student, and to address the pattern of inappropriate behavior,” according to the email from Paradis and Berner. “Our investigators concluded that Head of School Parvin Sharpless and Middle School Principal Ken Seward failed to take sufficient action. That failure contributed to the long-term emotional effects suffered by our former Middle School student, now an adult woman. We are profoundly sorry for the suffering that she and other former students have endured.”

More: Baltimore attorneys to investigate Key School sexual abuse allegations from 1970s »

Neither Sharpless nor Seward could be reached for comment.

Investigators also received two firsthand accounts by former Park students of sexual misconduct by two other former Park employees, according to the email. One occurred in the early 1980s and the second in the late 1950s. The school has reported its findings to the Maryland Child Protective Services.

No current employees were the subject of any reports over the course of the investigation, according to the email.

The email also noted that the school did its own review of internal records and found two documented episodes of employee sexual misconduct, both reported to the school “long after the two involved students had left Park.”

One teacher was dismissed in 1997 when the allegations about conduct in the 1970s were made, according to the email. The student making the allegations reported the teacher to police in 2006 after she found out he was teaching in another state. The teacher was arrested and charged with child abuse, according to the email.

A relative of the accused teacher told The Baltimore Sun that the charge has been expunged, and referred The Sun to the teacher’s defense attorney at the time, David B. Irwin of Towson. Irwin told The Sun he had no comment.

The second report involved a Park student who endured sexual abuse by a Park employee in 1974. When it was reported to then head of school David Jackson in 2006, Jackson reported the account to the Maryland Department of Social Services, according to the email.

The Park email concluded, “We offer our sincere apology to any individual who has been affected by the misconduct of a Park employee.”

The school said further reports can be made to (646) 445-7695 or ParkSchoolofBaltimore@tmprotection.com.

The report marks at least the sixth Maryland private school to have investigated employees for sexual abuse years after the alleged misconduct.

Maryland’s Attorney General Brian E. Frosh set up a hotline and email last year for victims of child sex abuse at schools or churches. It encourages victims or those with knowledge of abuse to contact the office.

Baltimore Sun reporter Yvonne Wenger contributed to this report.

crentz@baltsun.com

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