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Prep school headmaster charged in sex abuse

MORRISTOWN, N.J. -- The strict headmaster of a boarding school was charged Thursday in a 103-count indictment with sexually abusing 12 boys and two girl students over more than three years, prosecutors said.

Terrence Lynch, 52, former headmaster of the now-defunct Chartwell Manor Preparatory School in Mendham Township, was accused of spanking half-naked male students in class while fondling them. He also was charged with forcing students to perform sexual acts.

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The victims, all boarding students, were between 10 and 16 years old at the time of the offenses, between 1981 and 1984, prosecutors said.

'It became an atmosphere of corporal punishment,' Assistant Morris County Prosecutor John O'Reilly said. 'It was not known by the parents how far that punishment went.

'It's tragic, really,' he said, 'because some of these children have had a fairly traumatic experience.'

Also charged were two former teachers at the school, which had an enrollment of about 300 and closed in June 1984 for reasons that are not fully known, O'Reilly said.

O'Reily said Lynch now is living somewhere in England and that efforts were being made to negotiate his voluntary surrender.

In an indictment unsealed Thursday, Lynch was charged with 20 counts of sexual assault, 51 counts of endangering the welfare of a child, five counts of aggravated sexual assault and 25 counts of aggravated criminal sexual conduct.

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Former teacher Peter Ahlers, 32, of New York, was accused of one count of sexual assault and one count of endangering the welfare of a minor. He has been arraigned and was held on $10,000 bond.

Ex-teacher Pamela Lamar, 26, of Massachusetts, was charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct and two counts of persuading minors to smoke marijuana. She was expected to be arrested soon, O'Reilly said.

O'Reilly said that spanking was apparently accepted at the school as part of a strict code of discipline. Because of an tacit agreement among students that they would not report each other or their teachers, many parents did not learn of the alleged abuse until well after the school closed, as late as early 1985, he said.

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