NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 5, 2013

Brooks trustee presidents withheld info from board in Becker cases

(Continued)

The letter sent Thursday claimed that Becker had a relationship with a student at some point during his tenure that “was objectionable, manipulative, and an abuse of his position.” The matter of that relationship was handled by the president of the Board of Trustees at the time, publisher and former Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes.

a 1966 alumnus of Brooks who served as president of the board from 1987 to 1997.

Schwartzman said the matter was handled confidentially by Forbes and one other trustee, whom she declined to name. Forbes did not inform the full Board of Trustees or other school leaders about the relationship Becker is believed to have had with a student. She declined to provide details about the nature and timing of the relationship.

A voice message left with Forbes’ media handler seeking comment was not returned yesterday.

Forbes, who is currently a trustee emeritus, led the search committee for a new headmaster in 1986 that sorted through 80 to 100 candidates, eventually settling on Becker, who was assistant headmaster at The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn., at the time.

Messages left with Hotchkiss’ communications office yesterday were not returned.

The president of the Board of Trustees would make the decision whether and how much to tell the full board and other school personnel about allegations and investigations into the headmaster’s conduct.

In 2004, a different trustee president looked into an allegation against Becker of sexual misbehavior. According to Packard and Booth’s letter, school officials that year received calls “claiming that Mr. Becker had engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior while traveling alone on school business.”

At least one interview was conducted, during which Becker denied the allegations “and provided an account of his activities which, we now know, was untrue.”

David R. Williams, III, a 1967 Brooks alumnus who was president of the Board of Trustees from 1997 until 2005, would have been responsible for that investigation. Again, the full Board of Trustees was not informed of the allegations, Schwartzman said.

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