St Paul’s Girls’ School sexual abuse claims: Former pupils make allegations after #metoo campaign

CREDIT: This story was first seen in The Telegraph

A leading girls’ school is facing a string of sex allegations after its drama department asked alumnae to contribute towards a “real life” Edinburgh fringe festival play on the subject, The Telegraph reports.

Two former pupils of St Paul’s Girls’ School, known as “Old Paulinas”, have made allegations about historic sexual abuse they were subjected to.

Sarah Fletcher, high mistress at the £24,000-a-year school, wrote to alumnae this week to tell them that she has asked the Local Authority Designated Officer to carry out an independent safeguarding inspection at the school, following the claims.

Her letter, seen by The Daily Telegraph, said that the school has been informed by former pupils  about allegations of “past sexual abuse at St Paul’s”.  She said: “Two wrote from personal experience, others about what they had heard from friends.

The allegations relate to a period spanning from the 1970s to 1990s.” The school, whose alumnae include the actress Rachel Weisz, and the Good Morning Britain presenter Susanna Reid, is one of the highest performing in the country.

Earlier this month, the school’s Director of Drama, Liza Coutts, e-mailed ex-students explaining that she is working on a piece of “verbatim/documentary theatre based on real-life accounts of sexual harassment and assault”.

Ms Coutts wrote: “Following the spate of recent allegations, resignations and poorly-judged comments emblematic of a problematic culture across all sectors, we are hoping to create a piece of theatre which addresses this issue, to illuminate and educate our society of what must not be tolerated.”

Her email asked alumnae whether they were “shocked by the Weinstein stories in the press? Surprised?  Not surprised? Did you post a #metoo?”

Ex-students were invited to give a 30 minute anonymous interview about their experiences, which would be used as research for the production.

Ms Fletcher told former pupils that this e-mail, “in conjunction with #metoo and the stories about abuse currently in the press, prompted a small number of Ops [Old Paulinas] to get in touch with the school.”

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She urged the women to pass names on to the police so that the allegations of sex abuse can be properly investigated.

“Any member of staff who broke their bond of trust with a pupil should be held to account, no matter how many years have passed,” she said.

A spokesman for St Paul’s Girls School said: “We can confirm that the School recently received some allegations of past abuse. While these refer to events in the 1970s and 1990s, we take any information of this nature extremely seriously and have passed all the details immediately to the relevant authorities, with whom we remain in close contact.”

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