Darlington announced a settlement Monday between the school and 20 former students who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a former teacher in the 1970s and 80s.
That settlement brings to a close a bevy of lawsuits that alleged abuse during the students’ time at Darlington, all taking place between 1977 and 1988. The teacher, Roger Stifflemire, taught English at Darlington from approximately 1974 to 1994. During his tenure, he also served as a dorm parent where he supervised 9th through 12th grade boys.
The plaintiffs alleged that Stifflemire used his authority and influence as a teacher and dorm parent to obtain their trust, which he then exploited to sexually abuse them both on and off campus.
Darlington School and the law firms of Penn Law, LLC and Paul Mones, P.C., the firms jointly representing 20 survivors, stated that the settlement will provide compensation to the survivors, serve to strengthen Darlington moving forward and help prevent anything like this from happening again.
A statement released late Monday is attributed to the school’s board of trustees:
“This has been a horrible situation for these survivors and for the school. Mr. Stifflemire’s intimidation, manipulation and exploitation have left scars that may never fully heal. The abuse suffered was abhorrent, and we are truly sorry for the pain these men feel because of their time under our care,” the statement read. ”The Board of Trustees wishes to express its gratitude for the strength of these men to come forward with their horrific experiences while under the supervision of Darlington. Although this will be a stain forever on the history of our beloved school, we are relieved that the truth has been exposed and addressed.”
“We wish to express our sincere apologies for the experiences these men and their families have endured and their lifelong pain,” the statement continues. “We are also sorry that the school did not do a better job of protecting them or of recognizing what was happening at the time. We realize that no amount of compensation can remove the wounds, but we pledge to continue to work with these men to find peace and healing.”
”The Board is hopeful that all members of the Darlington family will unite behind this settlement. We can now only shape the future and we ask that all of us work together to make Darlington safer and stronger for the students present today and the generations yet to come.”
Darlington is grateful to everyone who stepped forward to share their experiences, observations, feelings, and thoughts since this process began. In addition to these cases, we have also settled one additional suit brought against the school related to the behavior of Mr. Stifflemire. We appreciate your continued partnership as we work to help these survivors move forward and for our community to start to heal.”
”While we are pleased to have reached this resolution and grateful for the grace shown to the school by these men, we also realize that we cannot undo the past. We do sincerely hope that this settlement can bring some sense of peace to all those who have suffered as a result of these acts. Darlington remains committed to the well-being of young people and will continue to do our best to provide a loving community for everyone associated with Darlington School.”