New London attorney to take prep school molestation case to trial

Jury selection is set to begin Tuesday in Hartford Superior Court in the civil case of a teenage boy who was molested by the disgraced former dean of the Gunnery preparatory high school in Washington, Conn.

Robert Reinhardt, 48, is serving a 9½-year prison sentence for molesting four boys at the school. He will be on strict probation for 30 years following his release and is required to register as a sexual offender.

All four of the victims brought civil lawsuits against the school, Reinhardt and former Headmaster Susan Graham. All have been settled for undisclosed sums except John Doe v. The Gunnery, which was brought by the Greenwich family of the now 19-year-old victim.

New London attorney Robert I. Reardon Jr., who is representing "John Doe," said Thursday that Reinhardt's abuse of his client lasted for most of the boy's freshman year at the school.

"This case is much more significant because it involves not an isolated incident or two but a relationship that went on from October to May," Reardon said.

The boy, who had gone to prep school in anticipation of going to college, was so damaged that he dropped out of high school altogether and underwent extensive psychiatric treatment, Reardon said.

Attorney Thomas Gerarde, who is representing The Gunnery and the former headmaster, could not be reached for comment. Reinhardt does not have an attorney but was deposed in prison in preparation for the trial, according to Reardon.

The plaintiff, who was the first to disclose in 2009 that he had been molested by Reinhardt, is prepared to get on the witness stand and tell the jury what happened, according to Reardon.

"It's going to be difficult for him, but he's prepared to do it if necessary," Reardon said. "We had hoped this would be resolved, but it hasn't."

Reardon said the case will expose "shocking details" about the school's conduct with respect to Reinhardt, including its failure to research his background, which would have revealed issues about his conduct in other settings.

Reinhardt was hired as a teacher in 1996 and was promoted to dean in 2006. In that position, he counseled students who were having problems.

"The weakest ones were sent to Mr. Reinhardt for help," Reardon said.

Judge Kevin Dubay is presiding at the trial, which could take four to five weeks, he said.

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