Steve Erway spent most of his adult life in prison, sentenced for charges related to “criminal sexual activity,” said his brother Daniel Erway.
He died a few weeks ago, before the release of a report that would detail how deeply his actions and those of the other men had impacted students attending some of Washington’s more prestigious schools.
A 19-page summary of the investigation launched by Washington National Cathedral into allegations of sexual misconduct by former employees or other adults at its private schools — St. Albans, the National Cathedral School and the Beauvoir School — and released on Thursday has stunned many in the community it serves. Cathedral officials said they corroborated allegations of sexual misconduct by 16 people .
The report also named Erway, who was not an employee, but roomed with a St. Albans faculty member. Three of the school’s students say he touched them inappropriately in the mid-1970s at an off-campus house.
According to the summary by the New York law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, Erway was later convicted on a number of child sexual abuse charges in Colorado and Connecticut, unrelated to the allegations involving students at the cathedral schools. Public records show that he was found guilty of sexual assault in Connecticut in 1989.
“I guess that, in some sense, there was a reckoning,” said his brother Daniel Erway.
In a letter sent to the school community Thursday, school officials apologized and said they took responsibility for “the abuse of trust and betrayal of innocence caused by former adult members” in decades past. The allegations of misconduct corroborated occurred primarily between the 1950s and the 1980s, with the most recent corroborated incident dating back 11 years.
The investigation of the cathedral community was initiated by St. Albans in February after The Washington Post reported allegations that a former St. Albans teacher had sexually abused a student while working at Key School, a private school in Annapolis, in the 1970s and was fired for alleged sexual misconduct.
Carolyn Surrick, who fought for years to expose sexual misconduct allegations at Key, said the report showed “the predators left a trail of broken souls in their wake.”
She said the institutions involved should support victims. Key School, for example, created a therapy fund for sexual abuse survivors.
“It’s time for the school to step up, address the needs of those who were abused, and help them as they try to navigate a world where their experiences are validated,” she wrote in an email. “It’s a terrible thing to be alone with this. It’s more terrible to realize that you were one of many.”
Cathedral officials said they were unaware of many of the allegations before the investigation. At least five of the men who were identified in the report have died, and three of those men’s family members could not be reached. Investigators said three men identified in the report are still living. They could not be reached. At least seven of the men named in the report had been criminally charged.
Beauvoir third-grade teacher Eric Toth ended up on the FBI’s most wanted list after he was accused of recording students using the bathroom. He fled the country in 2008 and spent five years on the run before he pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in 2013.
One St. Albans teacher left the school in 1986. Though investigators found no indication his departure was related to a sexual misconduct complaint, a student, a teacher and the parents of a student accused him of sexual misconduct, according to the cathedral’s report. That report detailed an incident in which the teacher placed his hand “under the student’s shirt and rubbed his chest, his stomach, and along his belt line.”
In 2001, the summary said, the teacher pleaded guilty in Maryland “to sexual abuse of a minor arising from an incident at a different school in the early 1990s.” He did not receive a reference from St. Albans when he requested one in 1999. The teacher did not respond to requests for comment.
Three students, two from St. Albans and one from the National Cathedral School, accused Ron Wilmore of sexual misconduct in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He was a Lower School teacher from 1975 until 1984 when he was forced to resign after a National Cathedral School student accused him of raping her at a picnic, according to the report.
After St. Albans, Wilmore served as director of Northwest Settlement House, now a nonprofit child care service in Northwest Washington. That organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It is not clear whether Wilmore worked with children there, and investigators found no evidence that Wilmore was provided with a recommendation or positive reference.
Wilmore died in January. His family declined to comment.
Stewart Patrick, 54, was one of the students whose allegations against Wilmore are contained in the report. He first reported Wilmore’s behavior to St. Albans in 1998, and at Patrick’s request, “St. Albans responded at the time by reporting Wilmore’s conduct to his then-current employer as well as a prospective employer,” the summary said.
Patrick said he ran into Wilmore at a Northwest Settlement House fundraiser in the 1990s. After the fundraiser, Patrick said Wilmore called him and apologized for the abuse “in a self-pitying way,” saying his dismissal from St. Albans had made finding a job difficult.
“He said, ‘It’s hard for me,’” Stewart said in an interview. “ ‘There are opportunities I’ve missed because I can’t work with kids.’ ”
Bill Patrick, Stewart’s brother who was also a St. Albans student, alleged Wilmore showed him pornography in the late 1970s — allegations detailed in the summary. In an email, he called the investigation “a positive step forward.”
“Were the schools and the Cathedral striving to protect themselves from future legal action as they pursued this inquiry?” he wrote. “Perhaps. But based on what I have heard from others up to this point, I also feel like they are trying to do the right thing — which is to prevent these sort of behaviors in the first place, and harshly punish them should they occur in the future.”
William Cole, who taught at St. Albans, was accused of exposing himself to a student and showing another an “erotic magazine” in the 1970s, and according to the summary “admitted to having engaged in some of the alleged misconduct.”
He left the school in 1976 “after realizing he had a problem that caused him to behave inappropriately with boys,” the summary said. “He also expressed his deep regret for any harm he caused.”
Cole got a positive reference from the school after his departure, the summary said. The summary also said “there was a lack of clear and convincing evidence” the school received a complaint.
Cole could not be reached for comment.
Six former students accused one teacher, now dead, of sexual misconduct. Larry Smith taught at St. Albans from 1950 to 1970 and died in 2005, according to the summary. Smith also ran a camp in Vermont, the summary said, and was accused of abusing students there as well.
Ben Schneider, who did not attend St. Albans, said Smith abused him at the camp in the 1970s. He said the fact that the summary named Smith made him feel “stronger and freer,” and called the report “the ending of a Grimm’s fairy tale.”
“This man sailed by on a reputation and demeanor of a well meaning community leader, using that to access young boys and please himself at the cost of our lives and mental health,” the man wrote in a direct Twitter message. “My one greatest desire was for him to be exposed and now it is official. I am glad. I am grateful to the school and the investigating team.”
Ian Shapira and Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.