St. George's School has announced plans to retain a "third party independent investigator" to complete a comprehensive investigation into sexual abuse at the Aquidneck Island boarding school.
The investigator will be chosen by the school's board and a group of former students, who have come forward with allegations of sexual assault.
“The Board is committed to a truly impartial investigation," said St. George's Boar Chair Leslie Heaney in a written statement.
An attorney for some of the victims called the move an important step forward.
"The names that are being mentioned are people that are beyond reproach with great integrity," said attorney Eric MacLeish. "We are very pleased the board is stepping up and doing this."
MacLeish and his clients have criticized St. George's initial report, which identified 26 former students with credible reports of sexual abuse involving six former school employees. The report also found evidence of student-on-student sexual violence at the elite Episcopal high school.
But MacLeish and another attorney, Carmen Durso, said the report was not independent, and they believe it understates the number of victims. According to MacLeish, more than 40 former St. George's students have now come forward with reports of sexual abuse, dating to the 1970's, 80's and as recently as 2004.
St. George's school officials said the new investigation will have no limits on time period or scope.
MacLeish said talks continue as his group, Alumni/Victims Group SGS for Healing, and the school look to name the new investigator and work toward additional agreements to help the victims.
"This is a very important step," said MacLeish. "There's nothing like the truth to sanitize situations like this. It can be a ray of sunshine, and St. George's can go on and become the kind of institution my clients want it to be."