Article from NJ.com
The Peck School hired an outside firm to investigate Alton’s time at the school, in the late 1970s, to see if he molested students. The move was prompted by word that several former students of Alton’s previous employer, The Pingry School, were alleging abuse by the then-popular Scoutmaster and teacher.
Peck told alumni that Alton had nothing but “positive job references” when he was hired, fresh from six years at the Short Hills Country Day School, which merged with Pingry.
“Records related to Alton’s hiring did not contain any signs of previous issues or concerns,” stated the email, signed by Andrew C. Delinksy, Head of School, and Edward J. Foley IV, president of the board of trustees.
Peck did not provide details about the two men who came forward, other than to say it involved “inappropriate sexual touching or sexual assault.” Alton was at Peck for the 1978-79 school year, when he taught English, ran a sixth-grade homeroom, and coached soccer.
Peck officials also conceded that since investigators were limited in their knowledge to which students from that era were willing to come forward, there may be other boys who were victims of Alton.
His Pingry accusers say Alton turned Boy Scout camping trips into an opportunity for juvenile sex games that groomed his victims for later one-on-one abuse.
Eventually Alton was charged in Essex County with three counts of lewdness for playing strip poker and engaging in mutual masturbation with 12-year-old boys. He left the state in 1980, landing in the Adirondack region of New York State, where his family had summered. It was there he was charged with more serious crimes against boys in 1990, and sentenced to five years in prison.
He’s now 70, and lives in Lower Manhattan. He could not be immediately reached for comment. He is a lifetime registered sex offender, but has not been charged with any crime since his release in 1995.
His Morristown attorney, Marcy McMann, had no comment about the newest allegations.
The timing of events points to Alton moving from Pingry to Peck under a cloud: The strip poker incident took place in April of 1978, while he was still teaching at Pingry. Charges weren’t filed until the summer of 1979, after he had completed his first year at the Peck School. When Peck learned of the charges, school officials immediately fired Alton. The email to alumni indicates it does not appear Peck provided Alton with any letter of reference.
In the Peck email, Delinsky and Foley say that while investigators learned many of the children had heard rumors about Alton, none of the adults had. Nor had any adult been told of any problem with Alton at the school.
They urged anyone with knowledge to contact Helen Cantwell of the firm of Debevoise & Plimpton, via firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 909-6312.
Our investigation on behalf of abuse victims from The Pingry School is ongoing. If you have any information about Thad Alton or child sexual abuse at The Pingry School, please call us confidentially at 1-888-407-0224 or email us using our confidential form.
We are hopeful that our investigation will help in the process of uncovering the whole truth — painful as it may be — and allow for justice and healing for the victims and the entire Pingry community.