Earlier this week, Joi messaged me to call my attention to the article in New York magazine concerning Lawrence Lessig, John Hardwicke, and their experiences at the American Boychoir School — and the lawsuit that they’re conducting. It’s harrowing reading for any sentient human being, but all the more so for our family, since we used to live in Princeton, and our boys went to summer camp at ABS (and Nate was heavily recruited to join the regular Boychoir School program). We know people who’ve worked there, and who’ve worked closely with the ABS administration. (Si’s perspective on these reports appears on his blog, and Joi follows up with a blog post today.)
I don’t know the specifics of any of the case material, haven’t reviewed any of the evidence. Still, many sources and many individual stories make a weighty testimony against ABS and the way it was administered — especially if one has formed a positive assessment of the probity of any of the witnesses, as I have of Prof. Lessig. I’m sickened by the abuse (and by knowing one of those who endured it), by the proximity of that abuse to our family (it would have been easy to push Nate into the program despite his hesitancy), by the systemic effects that ensue from the sickness of a few. I’m disheartened that the New Jersey Catholic Conference has lobbied for continuing charitable institutions’ immunity to liability for negligence (a stand of which the NJCC is evidently not proud enough to acknowledge on their website).
I don’t live in New Jersey, so I have no traction with legislators there, and I’m not a Roman Catholic, so I have no sway with the Catholic Conference, and I’m not a donor or alumnus of the Boychoir School — and I recognize the complexities of beneficent institutions caught up in the effects of misconduct by former employees — but hiding and resistance and evasion are not the way to anyone’s well-being in these circumstances. What doth it profit to preserve the institution’s life, at the cost of its soul?