Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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January 7, 2013

Elite prep school investigating ex-headmaster's conduct

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He added that by including information about his private life “and given the current climate in schools today, it encourages serious questions and speculation about my relationships with students over the years. I have worked with thousands of students and faculty members in two outstanding schools for over four decades. They know the answers to those questions. I leave the responses to them.”

Karen Schwartzman, a spokeswoman for the Brooks School, said the school found it necessary to publicly announce its investigation and to invite others with information that might be helpful to come forward because of the school’s changed attitude toward improper conduct.

She said the concern involving Becker’s relationship with a student years ago was kept internal until now because “it was the way these situations were handled in the past, but it would not be the way it would be handled today.”

She also acknowledged the student was not the anonymous author of the emails that triggered the investigation and, furthermore, that the student was satisfied with how the school had resolved the relationship with Becker.

The emails, Schwartzman said, were sent by a male escort hired by Becker in the fall of 2011, three years after he had departed the Brooks School, and contained threats tied to a sexual encounter. She said Becker initially denied knowledge of the e-mails but later admitted he was aware of them.

Further investigation turned up a 2004 incident with another male escort who had contacted the school claiming Becker had engaged in “inappropriate sexual behavior” while on a school business trip.

Schwartzman said at the time Becker “provided an account of his activities which, we now know, was untrue” and that the former headmaster had indeed hired a male escort while traveling for the school.

Brooks School was founded in 1926 by Rev. Endicott Peabody, an Episcopal priest who was a close friend of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Peabody's namesake grandson became governor of Massachusetts. Current enrollment at the school is 369 students.

Thus far no civil or criminal complaints or lawsuits have been filed against the Becker or the Brooks School.

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Details for this story were provided by The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.

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