Phillips Academy Alleges Resident Novelist Engaged in Sexual Misconduct
An investigation at Phillips Academy found five cases of sexual misconduct between teachers and students in the 1970s and 80s, including one involving the school’s former writer-in-residence, a well-known novelist.
The affluent Andover prep school, alma mater of brothers Jeb and George W. Bush, announced the findings of its investigation in a letter to the community, posted on its website. The letter comes three months after a Globe Spotlight investigation into sexual abuse at New England private schools.
“The message to all community members is straightforward: we take seriously our responsibility, as educators, to prevent sexual misconduct from occurring in the first place; we support with care and compassion those students affected when it does; and we investigate and respond appropriately to all concerns about sexual misconduct brought to our attention,” head of school John Palfrey wrote.
Three of the teachers were identified in the report: H. Schuyler Royce, who died in 1991; novelist Alexander Theroux, who lived on campus between 1978 and 1983; and Stephen Wicks. The two other teachers did not meet the investigation’s criteria for identification, which included the “severity of the misconduct, its effect on the former student(s), and/or whether the school was made aware of multiple concerns of misconduct,” according to Palfrey.
The school claims Theroux, a Medford native, engaged in sexual misconduct with a student in the 70s, which he denies. As a result of the investigation, Theroux has been banned from Phillips Academy and all school events.
Theroux’s best-known novel, 1981’s Darconville’s Cat, details a love affair between an English professor at a Virginia women’s college and one of his students, and was described by one critic as “Nabokovian.” In addition to his stint at Phillips Academy, Theroux lectured at Harvard in the late 70s, and served as a visiting artist at MIT, as well as a member of the English department at Yale.