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St. Paul’s alum tells story of sexual abuse by faculty member for the first time

  • St. Paul's School in Concord, Monday, May 22, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz



Monitor staff
Saturday, July 08, 2017

For more than two decades, Anne Udaloy hid the painful memories of her abuse by a well-respected faculty member at St. Paul’s School.

At first, she suppressed the details, started anew on the West Coast and disconnected from St. Paul’s. As much as she tried, she could not escape that horrific moment, as it had come to define her experience at the elite Concord boarding school.

Twenty-five years after graduating from St. Paul’s, Udaloy returned to the campus for her class reunion – marking her first time back since 1975. During conversations with other alumni, she found the courage to tell her story, and learned she was not the revered teacher’s only victim.

Through the telling of shared experiences, a group of alumni – some who had been abused and some who had not – banded together in search of the truth. In just a few months, they gathered allegations of sexual misconduct against 15 faculty members, generating multiple firsthand witness accounts spanning several decades.

Udaloy and other victims had found their voice after years of silence. However, St. Paul’s leaders weren’t interested in taking any action that could harm the school’s reputation, especially in cases where the accused were no longer employed, she said.

“The company line at the time was ‘this is all ancient history,’ and ‘nothing like that could be happening now,’ ” Udaloy said in a recent interview. “The response from the school in the 2000 to 2002 time frame was every bit as abusive as the original attacks on the students.”

Without any recourse, victims’ statements of abuse by faculty were filed away for another 16 years.

An investigation was conducted by the law firm of Ropes & Gray, but alumni who brought the matter to the school’s attention said they never saw any reports, findings or conclusions from that probe. Allegations at that time were not properly investigated, and while one notable teacher was removed from the school, St. Paul’s never said why, a 2017 report shows.

Present-day administrators have since acknowledged that St. Paul’s failed to protect its former students from sexual abuse by adults entrusted with their care.

St. Paul’s requested a new investigation last year into the allegations from 2000, following news reports that a former faculty member was fired from St. George’s School in Rhode Island for sexual misconduct in 1974. Former Rev. Howard “Howdy” White was also the subject of a Concord police investigation at the time after allegations were raised by a former student.

The independent investigation commissioned by St. Paul’s is detailed in a 71-page report released in May. It substantiates claims against at least 13 former faculty members, including White, between 1948 and 1988. The scope of the review is limited to those years.

“I was aware of almost every incident in that report,” Udaloy told the Monitor in June in her first public interview. “I didn’t appreciate having to bear that silence for 17 years.”

Now, she and other alumni are motivated to speak out again, and build a network of support for those in need.

The abuse

Udaloy was one of the first girls to attend St. Paul’s. She was 14 years old when her parents enrolled her in the elite prep school in 1972, a year after St. Paul’s began accepting girls full-time. Her aunt had married into a family of St. Paul’s alumni, and Udaloy was told her attendance at the school would be a great honor.

With the introduction of girls onto a previously all-boys campus, the primary concern among adults at that time was sex between two minors, Udaloy said. And for that reason, many St. Paul’s fathers didn’t want to be the first to enroll their daughters at the boarding school. Instead they chose to observe from afar as others tested the waters, she said.

For Udaloy, life at St. Paul’s was altogether positive in her first two years at the institution. However, it’s near impossible for her to see those initial experiences with much clarity today. The sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of Edward Lawrence “Larry” Katzenbach III during her senior year is what she remembers most about St. Paul’s.

Katzenbach taught English and history at St. Paul’s from 1971 to 1995. Udaloy had volunteered to babysit for Katzenbach’s infant daughter, something several female students had also done. On one occasion, she recalled, Katzenbach returned home to his apartment during the day and abruptly pulled his pants down around his ankles, telling her to touch his genitals.

Udaloy said she immediately fled Katzenbach’s apartment. She ran toward the sunlight, ultimately finding herself deep in the woods where she wept for hours.

“I was physically afraid the rest of my time at St. Paul’s. There was no way out of this. There was nowhere to report it,” she said. “Had I reported it, the best that could have happened is that I was ignored.”

Udaloy was a scholarship student with a bright future, and she feared having everything taken away from her, including her financial aid, if she filed a report. She didn’t know then that going to local police was an option.

“I respected him. I felt honored to be recognized by him, I thought for being smart. His attack changed that to he sees me as a slut,” Udaloy said. “That is something that disturbed me terribly. I went from thinking, I’m a smart kid, to I’m on par with anybody here, to the only reason I’ve been getting this positive feedback is because he perceives me in a negative way, and he’s trying to buy my compliance. That shook me to the core of the person I was becoming.”

Katzenbach is accused of having sexual relationships with multiple female students, physically grabbing female students, and making inappropriate sexual remarks, according to the independent report released in May. He resigned in 1994 and was given positive recommendations when applying for new jobs. He died three years later at age 53.

Unsilenced

Udaloy graduated from St. Paul’s in 1975 with a full-ride to Smith College. She spent two years there, but said she felt unfulfilled and incoherently angry much of the time. Against her parents’ wishes, she left Smith, bought a one-way ticket to the West Coast and did everything she could to break all ties with the Northeast.

For years, she suppressed the memories of that brief although life-altering encounter with Katzenbach. She didn’t talk about what had happened, and she remained far away from St. Paul’s.

But a solo car ride in 1991 would turn her life upside down once more, and bring that trauma to the surface.

Udaloy said she unexpectedly found herself pulled over on the side of the road sobbing as she banged her head against the steering wheel. She had been listening to the confirmation hearings of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Then-Sen. Joe Biden was grilling Anita Hill, a respected law professor, about alleged inappropriate behavior by Thomas, her former boss.

For Udaloy, the story hit too close to home.

“I told my husband immediately. I said, ‘I just remembered this. I need to talk to you about it.’ ”

Udaloy said she was convinced she needed to return to St. Paul’s and “do something about this horrible memory.” That opportunity came in 2000, when her classmates were invited back to campus to celebrate their 25th reunion.

Returning to campus was physically painful, Udaloy said, adding her adrenaline was up and she was on high alert. She spoke to alumni in small group settings and individually on different parts of campus. She had to take breaks in between certain conversations to regain her composure. While some were receptive to her disclosure, others were not.

“I figured out how to tell as many people as possible. In this group that I was talking to, a lot of people were aware of other attacks,” she said.

One alumnae whom Udaloy had confided in was Ursula Holloman, who in 2006 spoke to Vanity Fair contributing editor Alex Shoumatoff about the efforts of alumni to uncover the truth. Holloman told Shoumatoff, also a graduate of St. Paul’s, that “I was sitting on the lawn with (the victim) and a couple of other women in my class when she started telling us what Mr. Katzenbach did to her. I was stunned.”

Holloman had considered Katzenbach one of St. Paul’s best teachers.

Udaloy confirmed to the Monitor that she was the victim whom Holloman spoke of, although anonymously at the time.

“I talked to her and she picked the ball up,” Udaloy said, adding that Holloman followed up with alumni about forming a task force on student molestations. “I wouldn’t have been able to do that. A lot of credit goes to the alumni who themselves were not assaulted.”

Path forward

Finding the right words to tell her story has been a difficult venture, Udaloy said. What she has written in statements to investigators about the abuse doesn’t come close to painting a full picture of the trauma she endured in the immediate aftermath and in the years since.

“My chest still tightens to this day,” she said.

During the 2000 meeting with St. Paul’s, officials told Udaloy and other alumni that not a single report of sexual abuse by faculty had been filed with the administration. Udaloy said she is skeptical, but added, if true, the absence of reports speaks to the culture of silence at St. Paul’s – something that persists today.

“They still think this is about sex. It’s about power and abuse of power. Power has been routinely abused, certainly since the 1950s,” she said. “The abuses are all part of the culture of power that’s so deeply steeped in the tradition of the school that I don’t think they see it.”

St. Paul’s said it publicly released the independent report on faculty sexual abuse in a step toward greater transparency.

“Some have been questioning why we released the report, and we talked about the importance of excavating our history in order to make sure our present and future doesn’t repeat these same mistakes,” Theresa Ferns, the dean of student life, previously told the Monitor.

But former victims, including Udaloy, said there is still a lot the school has yet to reconcile. She considers the recent report a positive first step for the school, but notes that there is still a long road ahead.

“The school is at a crossroads where they literally need to address the entire issue very clearly and very publicly of how to run a model institution like this without endangering children,” Udaloy said. “Yes, you can get a great education at St. Paul’s, but you can also be damaged for life.”

(Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 369-3319, adandrea@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @_ADandrea.)