July 13, 2018


Dear Branson Community,

We write to you today to share a disturbing matter that has arisen at Branson in recent weeks. Three alumnae who attended Branson in the 1970s came forward to tell us that they were sexually abused by a former employee at the school while they were students at Branson. These allegations of abuse by a former Branson employee are profoundly upsetting. As a school, we are deeply committed to the emotional and physical well-being of all of our students, both past and present. We admire the courage of these alumnae in bringing this information to our attention, and we intend to approach this matter with the utmost compassion and transparency. We will support these survivors throughout the process, as we will with any other alumni, male or female, who may have been sexually mistreated by this former employee or others at the school.

Upon hearing from our alumnae, we immediately reported the incidents from two of the 1970's alumnae to local law enforcement agencies in a manner that protected their anonymity. The third alumna reported the sexual abuse of the former Branson employee directly to the police herself, and we followed with our own report.

We have also initiated an investigation into any past incidents of sexual misconduct by faculty and staff at Branson. It is vitally important that Branson has a full and accurate understanding of any employee misconduct that may have occurred in the past so that we can do our best to support and protect every former, current, and future member of this community. This letter is intended, in the spirit of deep support, to ask that anyone in the Branson community who has information about this or any misconduct to please come forward and assist us in our investigation.

The Board of Trustees has retained two attorneys, Nancy Kestenbaum and Clara Shin, from the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into the specific reports recently received by Branson, to receive and investigate any new reports of adult sexual misconduct against any student by Branson faculty or staff, and to do additional investigation or follow-up as Ms. Kestenbaum and Ms. Shin deem necessary. They will have full access to Branson's files, records, and personnel in the course of their investigation. Ms. Kestenbaum and Ms. Shin have extensive and relevant investigative experience. Ms. Kestenbaum led the investigations concerning sexual misconduct undertaken by Choate Rosemary Hall and The Brearley School, and Ms. Shin participated in the recent cultural review undertaken by Uber. They have no direct connections with Branson, and they and their firm have not represented the school previously.

Though it is undoubtedly very difficult for survivors to come forward, we respectfully encourage anyone who experienced, or is aware of, any sexual misconduct by any faculty or staff member that occurred during their time at Branson, or who has any information at all that may assist us in our investigation, to please contact Ms. Kestenbaum and Ms. Shin at our Branson-specific number at 1-415-955-6975 or by email at The identity of anyone who reports information to these counsel will be handled as confidentially as the reporter wishes, and will not be shared without the reporter's consent, except as mandated by law or where, in counsel's judgment, a report should be made to protect a minor from harm.

We intend to share the findings of the independent investigation with the Branson community when it is concluded. At that time, no alumni or student names will be shared without the individual's express permission.

So that you are aware of our current practice, it is our policy and procedure to follow all relevant laws with regard to any allegations of child abuse, including informing Child Protective Services as required by State law. In addition, we diligently check the fingerprints (Live Scan) and references of each potential employee at Branson before they are hired. We also require each newly hired employee to undergo a thorough background check before they begin work at Branson. In addition, our faculty regularly participates in mandated reporter, sexual harassment, and abuse prevention training.

Protecting the safety, welfare and health of our students is, and always will be, our primary concern each and every day. It is clear that long past transgressions can cause current pain and anguish, and we want to express our sorrow and support for any members of our community who may be suffering. To that end, the Board is in the process of setting up a support fund that will be available to alumni to financially support any therapy or counseling they may need or desire as a result of adult sexual misconduct they experienced while students at Branson.

Thank you for your support of Branson's efforts to examine its past in order to build and maintain a safe environment for all the members of our community.





Christina K. Mazzola
Head of School


Claudia Lewis
Chair of the Board of Trustees


© 2018 The Branson School

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