Breaking: Nancy Errichetti, Head of the Montessori School of Raleigh, Arrested for Allegedly Aiding and Abetting Sexual Abuse | News

Breaking: Nancy Errichetti, Head of the Montessori School of Raleigh, Arrested for Allegedly Aiding and Abetting Sexual Abuse

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This morning, Nancy Errichetti, the head of school at the Montessori School of Raleigh, was arrested at the school by Raleigh police at about ten a.m. and charged with contributing to the delinquency and neglect of a minor and aiding and abetting the taking of indecent liberties with a child under the age of sixteen.

Last year, as the INDY has previously reported, a teacher at the school, Nicholas Conlon Smith, was charged with more than twenty counts of statutory rape and the possession of child pornography. A lawsuit filed by the parents of two sisters who attended MSR claimed that Errichetti turned a blind eye to the abuse; in 2012, the lawsuit said, Errichetti learned that Smith had been acting inappropriately with one of the sisters, called Jane Doe I in the complaint, “specifically including but not limited to holding her hand, being alone with her in compromising positions (both on and off campus, including a hotel room on a school trip) and otherwise.”

Errichetti let Smith off with a warning, and he allegedly went on to sexually abuse Jane Doe II, Jane Doe I’s younger sister.

Last week, the INDY reported that, in 2016, Errichetti had given Smith an almost identical warning—including an admonition against entering girls’ hotel rooms—but allowed him to remain in the classroom until his arrest a year later.

Asked via text if she could comment, a spokeswoman for MSR replied, “We are checking,” then asked the INDY what the charges were. The school appears to have taken down its Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts.

Update: Sources at the Wake County Justice Center say Errichetti is likely to be arraigned tomorrow, not today. The INDY has also obtained a copy of the indictment returned against her, which indicates that her arrest is indeed tied to the Nick Smith case.

According to the indictment, between August 14, 2012, and June 2, 2016—the dates of the two corrective actions Errichetti gave Smith—“the defendant named above unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously did aid and abet Nicholas Smith, to take or attempt to take immoral, improper, or indecent liberties with [victim], who was under the age of sixteen years old on the date of offense, for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire. … Specifically, the defendant had previously [sic] knowledge of inappropriate behavior toward other behavior toward other students in whose care he was entrusted as a school teacher, the defendant, as head master [sic] was in a position to act and failed to do so, which resulted in [victim] being sexually abused.”

Update 2: In a statement, MSR board chairman Joe Lee says: “We have worked closely and cooperatively with law enforcement officials since the arrest of Nick Smith and are actively working to better understand the basis for the allegations against Nancy Errichetti. As Head of School, she consulted closely with outside counsel on all matters related to Nick Smith. The safety and well-being of our students remain the foundation on which our school is built. The Board of Trustees will work with our administration to ensure continuity for our students, parents, faculty, and community.”

The Board of Trustees, which a spokeswoman told the INDY two weeks ago was “one hundred percent” behind Errichetti, also sent the following email to the school’s staff:

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Update 3: Early Thursday morning, the Board of Trustees sent a longer email to the school’s staff. In it, the board says it intends to tell the school community, among other things, that it has seen no evidence that Errichetti was aware of any sexual assault and took any allegation of inappropriate behavior seriously. The email is reprinted in its entirety below.

To the MSR Faculty:

We know how difficult yesterday was for you. You are on the front line every day, and our students, parents, and others look to you for answers.

We will be sending out another communication to our community soon that answers some of these questions, outlines our plans going forward, and provides guidance to parents on how to talk to their children. (A copy is attached.)

To ensure continuity of operations, Aubrie, Danielle, Kaley, and Kevin will lead the school for the remainder of the academic year.

We realize that you and others have legitimate questions and concerns – and we have not yet been in a position to provide you with all of the information you need, want and deserve. We know that many of you are eager for an opportunity to discuss these issues. We will schedule a series of meetings with faculty and staff for next week. We will be in touch with more details about those meetings.

The MSR Board of Trustees

Jeff Ammons, Dan Barker, Candace Covington-Olander, Matt Gross, Zeb Hadley, Clay Heaton, Krystin Knox, Joe Lee, Jim Luther, Tania Malik, Kim Rohde, and BJ Stolz

Montessori School of Raleigh

________________________________________________________________

Letter to MSR Community

May 17, 2018

To the MSR Community:

As a follow up to our earlier communication, we are writing to share important information. First, we want you to know that the school is open and operating as normal. The Board has asked four capable administrators – Aubrie Hile-Hoffer, Danielle Johnson-Webb, Kaley Mansour, and Kevin McLean – to assume responsibility of the school’s operations for the final three weeks of school.

Second, we want to acknowledge that our children, parents and faculty have legitimate questions and concerns – and we have not yet been in a position to provide you with all of the information you need, want and deserve.

Our goal is to give you the facts and details necessary to rebuild the trust that is integral to the continued success of our school.

This is a process that takes time. And we know that is frustrating.

Here are two important things you should know today:

The allegations against Nancy

We have not seen any factual foundation that justifies the charges against Nancy. We have no information or evidence that Nancy was aware of any sexual assault.

When presented with concerns about Nick Smith’s professional boundaries, Nancy took those concerns very seriously. She sought advice from the school’s outside counsel and acted accordingly given the concerns that were raised.

An unbiased, objective review is underway

Since the arrest of Nick Smith in November, we have worked hard to understand what happened and how it happened. Because of privacy considerations, the criminal investigation and the civil litigation, we have been limited in what we could share with you. We understand how difficult that is, particularly as new information has come to light that has raised more questions than answers.

It is important to the MSR community that we have an external objective review of this matter.

We have been working with Gina Maisto Smith of the law firm Cozen O’Connor since November. Many of you may remember Gina from the community meetings we held last year. She has 20 years of experience as a Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia, prosecuting child abuse cases, and she specializes in helping institutions like ours understand, prevent and respond to sexual abuse.

The Board previously asked Gina to perform an objective, third-party review. She is taking a hard look at the facts and will give us a frank assessment about how the school and our leadership handled this matter. She is looking carefully at any concerns that we were raised and how we responded.

In light of this week’s events, the need to obtain this kind of evaluation has grown exponentially.

Going Forward

Despite the challenges facing us, our school is well positioned for the future. We have a talented team of faculty, staff, and parent volunteers that collaborate to produce great students.

We have an insurance company that has provided valuable support and resources, including a legal team that will defend the school in the civil case. And we have assembled a capable team of experts who are working closely with us. Also, we would like to assure the community that Nancy is also well represented and with her family at this time.

We are a close knit and strong community. We will survive this difficult time and grow stronger together. We realize that many of you may still have questions and concerns and our board members will be available to talk with you in the days and weeks ahead. In addition, we have attached guidance on how to talk with your child about this situation.

As the Board of Trustees, our mission is to provide strategic non-operational leadership to ensure an excellent Montessori education for current and future students. We are here for all of our children.

Our Board is comprised entirely of parents. We are Jeff Ammons, Dan Barker, Candace Covington-Olander, Matt Gross, Zeb Hadley, Clay Heaton, Krystin Knox, Joe Lee, Jim Luther, Tania Malik, Kim Rohde, and BJ Stolz. We are part of this community and we care deeply about our school.

Like you, we have entrusted our children to the Montessori School of Raleigh. Like you, we value the Montessori approach to education. Like you, we love this school and want it to succeed – for the benefit of our entire community.

The MSR Board of Trustees

Jeff Ammons, Dan Barker, Candace Covington-Olander, Matt Gross, Zeb Hadley, Clay Heaton, Krystin Knox, Joe Lee, Jim Luther, Tania Malik, Kim Rohde, and BJ Stolz

# # #

GUIDANCE ON TALKING TO YOUR CHILDREN

· In speaking with your children, we recommend being direct and forthright in your approach.

· You should take your lead from the child as to how much detail or information they need. Younger children may not understand the import or significance of an arrest. They may just notice Nancy’s absence and the emotional tone and demeanor of other adults and students. Middle and upper school students will have more questions and may be more focused on the practical aspects.

· It is important to listen carefully to your child’s concerns, to acknowledge and accept the range of emotions your child may be feeling, and to also acknowledge your own emotional response to the information.

· It may help children to know that Nancy was arrested, but that she is at home with her family, that she is ok, and that she has good friends and family who are supporting her. Children will process the information at their own pace. Some may be upset immediately; some not at all. Some may show the impacts externally; some may not.

· Please reassure your child that they can come to you or a trusted teacher at the school. Finally, children may also want reassurance that their school days and routines will remain the same for the rest of the school year.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

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