Ex-prep dean charged Former Gunnery official and coach accused of sexual assault
Former official and coach at Gunnery accused of sex assault
Published 11:11 pm, Monday, August 31, 2009
The Gunnery School community in Washington is trying this week to come to grips with news that a former administrator has been charged with several counts of sexual assault.
Former Dean of Students Richard Reinhardt was being held Wednesday on $750,000 bond in Litchfield after turning himself in to state police that morning on three warrants alleging varying degrees of sexual assault.
Mr. Reinhardt was arraigned at Bantam Superior Court and charged with two counts of 2nd degree sexual assault, with risk of injury to a minor attached to each charges, and one count of 4th degree sexual assault.
A call to Mr. Reinhardt's attorney, Willie Dow of Hartford, was not returned by press time.
Mr. Reinhardt had been in Pennsylvania when he learned that arrest warrants had been signed by a judge in Connecticut, attorney Susan K. Smith, who is representing one of the alleged victims, said she learned during arraignment.
Mr. Reinhardt had been dismissed by the venerable prep school and is facing the criminal charges, as well as possible civil liability claims, for alleged sexual abuse of students, Smith said Wednesday.
Attorney Smith, of the law firm Smith & Moore in Avon, said July 27 in a firm Web site entry that "a number of students at the prestigious Gunnery in Washington Depot have alleged sexual abuse by teacher, coach and dean, Richard Reinhardt."
"[Mr.] Reinhardt was previously barred from the campus and now has been dismissed from the school," Ms. Smith continued.
Ms. Smith said she, in conjunction with Attorney Richard Kenny of the Hartford firm of Kenny, O'Keefe and Usseglio, is "looking into civil liability claims on behalf of several [alleged] victims."
Terry Sonnemann, the Supervisory State's Attorney at Bantam Superior Court, confirmed Wednesday the office is investigating complaints of sexual abuse of Gunnery School students.
She has asked the search warrant remain sealed despite the arrest and arraignment of Mr. Reinhardt because the investigation is ongoing and disclosure of the warrant may disclose the identity of another person.
"That leads us to suspect that there may have been a fourth victim," Ms. Smith said.
Speaking for the school, Gunnery Head of School Susan Graham said, in a statement issued Tuesday, "the school first learned in June of an allegation regarding inappropriate contact between a member of the faculty and a student."
The matter was reported to state child welfare authorities immediately, she said, and is being taken "very seriously" by the school. She further said "the safety and well-being of our students has always been our top priority."
"The faculty member in question has left the school's employment," Ms. Graham said.
Formerly a leading administrator at the school, Mr. Reinhardt, 45, left the prep school after the allegations surfaced. He had been Dean of Students since 2006.
He was hired at the school in 1996 and had since been crew team coach, a science teacher and a recruiter.
Mr. Reinhardte was involved in the school's residential life program, which involves both day and boarding students.
Originally from Philadelphia, Mr. Reinhardt had previously been at Boston University, where he coached freshman rowing and coached the national junior men's team.
On The Gunnery's Web site, in a September 2006 entry at the time of Mr. Reinhardt's naming as dean, he was quoted as saying "My assistant, Laurie Paquin, and Kate Merritt (the new Director of Residential Life) have been wonderful. They are hard workers and keep me in line."
The Gunnery School is a private college preparatory school in Washington Depot.
Contact Susan Tuz