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By Barbara Goldberg
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Students at Choate Rosemary Hall, an elite boarding school in Connecticut, were sexually abused by at least 12 faculty members in incidents that date back to the 1960s, according to a report commissioned by the school and released on Friday.
When the school, which includes President John F. Kennedy among its graduates, learned of sexual misconduct involving its faculty, it handled the improprieties internally and quietly rather than reporting them to police, the report said.
"We profoundly apologise," Choate said in a statement acknowledging the findings. "The conduct of these adults violated the foundation of our community: the sacred trust between students and the adults charged with their care."
The school said it released the report to fulfil its "pledge to be at the forefront of the highest standard of care in preventing and addressing adult sexual misconduct."
Choate is the latest in a string of private schools, including St. George's School in Rhode Island and New York City's Horace Mann and Poly Prep schools, that have faced accusations that faculty members have abused students.
In one of the incidents at Choate reported in 1999, a Spanish language teacher at the prestigious school raped a 17-year-old female student in a swimming pool during an academic trip abroad, the report said.
The board of trustees hired an investigator from the law firm Covington & Burling LLP to carry out the inquiry after former students complained of sexual abuse they had suffered years ago. The latest incident investigated took place in 2010.
The Choate report found that the school knew that faculty members engaged in "intimate kissing" and "intimate touching" with male and female students, but reported none of the incidents to police. Teachers were allowed to resign, some with letters of recommendation, and some were allowed to keep their jobs with restrictions on student contact, the report said.
Even when a teacher was terminated or resigned because he or she had engaged in sexual misconduct with a student, the rest of the faculty was told little and sometimes nothing about the teacher's departure, the report said.
The Spanish teacher in the 1999 incident was fired but then worked at several other Connecticut schools.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Alden Bentley)