Key findings in a newly-released report into widespread sexual abuse at McLean’s prestigious Potomac School allege that former teacher and administrator Christopher R. Kloman sexually abused as many as 31 school students during his 29-year tenure at the school, and that there may have been as many as four additional former employees who may have also engaged in sexual misconduct that were also known to administrators.
On Oct. 18, Kloman was sentenced to 43 years in prison for sexually molesting five girls beginning in 1966. Kloman worked at the school from 1965 until 1994, when he was terminated and shortly thereafter began working as a substitute teacher at the Washington Episcopal School in Bethesda, Md.
It was there that Anne Sullivan, a Potomac School graduate now in her mid-50’s, saw him when she was picking up her son one day in 2011.
“Imagine my surprise, walking down the hallway of my son’s school and seeing Mr. Kloman, the seventh-grade teacher who assaulted me in a swimming pool 40 years earlier,” Sullivan testified in court.
Sullivan testified that as a 12-year-old, Kloman invited her to swim in his pool and then pinned her arms behind her back, immobilizing her, and then sexually molested her.
After seeing him at her son’s school, in proximity to a new generation of children, Sullivan said she became fraught with concern and contacted authorities, divulging her four-decades-old secret.
After a year of investigation, Kloman was arrested and charged in November 2012.
The Fairfax County Police investigation revealed four additional victims; all girls who were between the ages of 12 and 14 when the offenses occurred from the late 1960s to the late 1970s.
Shortly after Kloman’s sentencing, the school hired the law firm of Debevoise and Plimpton to conduct an independent investigation focusing on the scope and extent of Kloman’s misconduct while employed at the school; what the school knew, what steps it took in response; and any other allegations of misconduct brought to the investigator’s attention.
Investigators spoke to 240 individuals who were part of the school community and received reports of acts ranging from inappropriate touching to rape, according to the summary of the investigation’s findings that was sent out in a letter on June 27 to parents, alumni and friends of the school.
“Ultimately, the investigation found that Kloman’s abuse of Potomac students, while varying in degree, extended to more victims than those identified during the legal proceedings,” the letter states. “It also seems clear that the school learned of some credible allegations of sexual misconduct at the time and directed Kloman to attend counseling, but these actions did not succeed in stopping the abuse or protecting its students. Additionally, the investigators heard reports alleging misconduct of varying kinds by other former employees at the School.”
The report’s findings also claim Kloman worked under six different heads of school at Potomac, and that Kloman’s alleged abuse of Potomac students was directly reported to at least two Heads of School in the 1970s but that he continued to work at the school until 1994 when according to the report, “Kloman’s misconduct was likely an unstated factor in the decision to terminate him…” The report says investigators found no evidence that anyone who received reports about Kloman ever contacted law enforcement.
“The investigators found strong evidence that twenty-six former Potomac students were victims of sexual abuse by Kloman, in addition to the five victims who were the subject of Kloman’s guilty plea and criminal conviction,” it states.
In addition, the report states investigators received and evaluated credible allegations of sexual misconduct reported to previous school administrations concerning four other former employees at Potomac. Those allegations were investigated at the time they were raised and the employees were dismissed. “Although the investigators were able to corroborate only some of these reports, we will share all of the information with law enforcement officials,” wrote Head of School John J. Kowalik and H. Board of Trustees Chair Lawrence Culp, Jr.
“We are deeply disturbed by what was found,” Culp and Kowalik continued in the letter. “The investigation leaves little doubt: cherished Potomac values were ignored, and the school failed in its duty to safeguard the health and well-being of these students… On behalf of the Potomac School Board of Trustees and the entire community, we offer a sincere and heartfelt apology to the victims as well as their families and friends. Our hearts are heavy with the knowledge that they came to harm at Potomac. We recognize that the passing of time has done little to ease their pain.”
Culp and Kowalik state in the letter that the school is implementing safeguards to ensure such incidents will never happen again.
“Our clients recognize that the current Potomac School is taking a look at the past and addressing not only the extent of Kloman’s abuse, but the knowledge and failures of past administrations, and the existence of other perpetrators at the school,” prominent civil rights attorney Gloria Allred--who represents 11 alleged victims--said Tuesday.
Calls made to Kloman’s attorney, Peter D. Greenspun, were not immediately returned.