Police reveal they are investigating two sex assault allegations involving Dulwich College


The Met confirmed last night it had received two allegations of sexual assault relating to Dulwich College after the headmaster vowed to pass on any complaints of criminal behaviour to the police. 

Police said the separate claims of ‘non-recent sexual assault’ were sent to officers yesterday, with enquiries still ongoing and no arrests. 

On the same day head Dr Joe Spence told parents that ‘a small number’ of people had come forward to ‘name their abusers’ and that the ‘pupils’ in question had either been disciplined or their cases passed to the police. 

It came after the publication of an open letter on Sunday by former pupil Samuel Schulenburg, 19, who now attends Oxford, which branded the £21,246-a-year school a ‘breeding ground for sexual predators’. 

Dulwich is the latest top London public school to be caught up in the ‘rape culture’ row, with similar claims levelled at Westminster, Latymer Upper, Kings College and London Oratory. St Paul’s and Eton have also been the subject of allegations on social media. 

Highgate School in north London, which charges £21,600 a year, saw a pupil walkout yesterday over ‘toxic rape culture’ as it appointed former Appeal Court judge Anne Rafferty to lead an independent review into pupils’ testimonies.  

It follows a wider conversation about women’s safety following the murder of Sarah Everard in Clapham, south-west London, which has prompted a dramatic increase in the number of women coming forward with accounts of sexual abuse.  

Police said the separate claims of 'non-recent sexual assault' relating to Dulwich College (pictured) were passed to officers yesterday, with enquiries still ongoing and no arrests

Police said the separate claims of ‘non-recent sexual assault’ relating to Dulwich College (pictured) were passed to officers yesterday, with enquiries still ongoing and no arrests 

The Met said when asked about Dulwich: ‘Police received two separate allegations of non-recent sexual assault on Thursday, 25 March. Enquiries into the circumstances are ongoing; there have been no arrests.’ 

The force declined to provide further details about the nature of the sexual assault allegations. 

England’s children’s commissioner Rachel de Souza has urged other schools to follow Dulwich’s lead and report serious claims to the police. 

MailOnline has contacted all the schools mentioned above to ask if they have passed any allegations to the police and whether they would consider doing so for serious claims in the future. The Met has also been contacted. 

Dulwich headmaster Joe Spence wrote yesterday: ‘Since the publication of the Open Letter a small number of individuals have come forward naming their abusers and in these cases Dulwich College has either disciplined those pupils or, where there has been an allegation of criminal behaviour, passed the case on to the police.’ 

Dr Spence added: ‘We understand why victims of harassment or abuse may not wish to be named or to name perpetrators, but we welcome the opportunity to deal with specific cases, both so that wrongdoing can be punished and so that individual pupils against whom allegations have been made have an opportunity to defend themselves.’ 

The headmaster wrote that he ‘condemns unreservedly the behaviours and attitudes reported in the open letter’ and vowed to ‘challenge’ any instances of poor or illegal behaviour. 

Schools ‘must involve police’ in rape claims, says children’s commissioner 

Rachel de Souza, the children’s commissioner for England, was asked about allegations of sexual assault and harassment by pupils at leading public schools last night. 

Speaking on Newsnight, she called the reports ‘alarming’ and said schools had a duty to report any serious claims to the police.  

‘It’s really distressing, and we get lots of testimony like this,’ she said. 

Ms De Souza said there was ‘very clear advice on sexual violence and harassment’ for schools. 

‘When it is serious it must be escalated to both social care and to the police and schools need to follow that.’

 

The original letter, published by the Sunday Times on March 21, was written by Mr Schulenburg and includes about 250 anonymous stories from girls who went to schools nearby such as James Allen’s Girls’ School ( Jags). 

The alleged accusations include assault, revenge porn, sexual violence, ‘slut shaming’ and claims the school has an ‘established rape culture.’

Most of the allegations made in open letters and on social media are anonymous and cannot be verified by MailOnline. In other cases victims have come forward to reveal their own claims.

Mr Schulenburg, who now goes to Oxford University, said: ‘The behaviour of…students is a testament to their entitlement, to their experience of an institution which has enabled their sexism.

‘The submitted testimonials do not present a divide between the many and the few. They describe a community of abusers and their enablers, violently sexist boys whose behaviour is underpinned by a collective understanding that their comfort and status is worth more than the lives of those who fall prey to their abuse.

‘In almost every story, experiences of assault, revenge pornography and slut shaming were exacerbated by the aggressor’s friends, young men who laughed at stories of sexual violence, who shared illicit photos of teenage girls without consent, who stood by as their mates ruined lives. These accounts are heartbreaking as they are outraging.

‘They describe a plethora of victims, female students at nearby schools, fellow Alleynians, female teachers. Their purpose is not to highlight the tragedy of individual cases, but to expose the overarching nature of this problem.

‘I believe that the College and its culture can be so much more than this.

‘There has to be accountability. There has to be justice. It is long overdue.’

Former pupils from the school include Sir Ernest Shackleton, Bob Monkhouse, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Nigel Farage. 

The sexual assault complaints were made after the publication of an open letter on Sunday by former pupil Samuel Schulenburg, 19

Dulwich head Joe Spence

The sexual assault complaints were made after the publication of an open letter on Sunday by former pupil Samuel Schulenburg, 19. Pictured right: Dulwich head Joe Spence  

The letter, addressed to Dulwich master Dr Spence, was posted to the former pupils' Instagram page which included as link to the testimonies

The letter, addressed to Dulwich master Dr Spence, was posted to the former pupils’ Instagram page which included as link to the testimonies

Dulwich headmaster’s full letter 

Dear Parents

When I first wrote to you about the Open Letter from Samuel Schulenberg OA I assured you of regular updates outlining how the College would respond to the allegations made and the accompanying reports from individuals who testified to experiencing abuse or harassment.

I reiterate that Dulwich College as a community condemns unreservedly the behaviour and attitudes reported in the Open Letter and is united in its determination to challenge them and to ensure that such a report could not be compiled in the months and years ahead. Our pupils have made clear that they will work hard with College leadership to live up to this assurance; their contribution to our plans for the future will be integral to all we will do.

We apologise to anyone who has experienced abuse or harassment perpetrated by a pupil of Dulwich College. We will act on any case where an individual pupil is named. Since the publication of the Open Letter a small number of individuals have come forward naming their abusers and in these cases Dulwich College has either disciplined those pupils or, where there has been an allegation of criminal behaviour, passed the case on to the police. We understand why victims of harassment or abuse may not wish to be named or to name perpetrators, but we welcome the opportunity to deal with specific cases, both so that wrongdoing can be punished and so that individual pupils against whom allegations have been made have an opportunity to defend themselves.

In the film accompanying this letter I outline, in broad terms, the actions the College is taking in response to the Open Letter. For ease of reference, an accompanying PowerPoint contains slides with brief notes on each of the actions.

This Dulwich Post, film and PowerPoint will be followed up in the Easter holidays with a formal letter with more granular detail on many of the actions, as confirmed by our Governors, but I am conscious that the community wants to know what is being planned and that any vacuum can be filled with fear, doubt and misinformation.

Thank you for the many letters and e-mails you have written over recent days, expressing confidence that we can be part of the answer to a societal problem in our response to the Open Letter, offering advice or contacts and helpfully seeking clarification on particular issues. The common thread in all you have written is an appreciation of the fact that we will only affect change if we work together and take a shared responsibility for the actions of our children; thank you for that earnest of your engagement and support.

As ever Joe Spence

 

Several testimonies about males from Dulwich College were made by female pupils from other schools.

One wrote: ‘I was filmed in a vulnerable position at a party by a DC boy without my consent and he then posted those videos on social media and shared them with friends. Since then, I have been incredibly paranoid in any kind of intimate situation or party, I feel as though I can’t enjoy myself without the fear of being watched and ridiculed.

‘The DC lad culture is truly one of the most toxic and harmful environments I have ever been exposed to, I can only imagine what others have been through because of the shared mentality of arrogance and thoughtlessness that pervades Dulwich College.’ 

Another said: ‘I was held down and had my top and bra taken off by a group of Dulwich College boys who only gave my clothes back ten minutes later as I cried and screamed.’

Dulwich students are also said to use polling app Waggle It to rate the attractiveness of girls and sex acts they would like to perform.  

Many of Britain’s top independent schools have been named on Everyone’s Invited, a website and Instagram page set up last year by Soma Sara, 22, a former private schoolgirl and sexual abuse survivor to allow people to post their claims of harassment. 

The scandal over alleged sex abuse at public schools began last week when Ava Vakil, a former Wimbledon High School pupil, wrote a letter to Andrew Halls, headmaster of King’s College School, Wimbledon, describing the £20,000-a-year private school as a ‘hotbed of sexual violence. 

She accused male pupils of violent and drunken sexual assaults, telling rape jokes and threatening rape, and circulating nude photos of girls without their knowledge in group chats. 

A spokesman for King’s said: ‘We are very far from complacent and see that from the troubling testimonies of girls and women who have come forward there is clearly more work we can and will do.’

But they added: ‘Since the publication of the open letter, we have been contacted by many current and former pupils and parents, to say that they do not recognise the descriptions of the school’s culture and that they recognise our commitment to safeguarding and educating our pupils on such matters.’ 

Sixth Form students at the London Oratory – where Nick Clegg and Tony Blair’s children are among the alumni – were the latest to raise concerns on Instagram.

One post saw the state-funded Roman Catholic school in Fulham, west London, blasted for having ‘the worst rape culture of any school I know’.

Its headteacher wrote to parents, staff and pupils saying he had spoken to students who shared their ‘alternative experiences of life at the school’.

But he said parents should take charge on handling the issue as they are the ‘most influential educators on such matters’, the Times reported.

One account by a London Oratory pupil on the Instagram page read: ‘My boyfriend at the time who went to [London] Oratory raped me.

‘He then went on to lie to all of his friends about what happened.’

The author, a former Wimbledon High School pupil called Ava Vakil, invited girls to share their experience of 'sexual violence or harassment from students' at King's

The author, a former Wimbledon High School pupil called Ava Vakil, invited girls to share their experience of ‘sexual violence or harassment from students’ at King’s

Sixth Form students at the London Oratory (pictured) made allegations of rape and sexual assault on an Instagram account

Sixth Form students at the London Oratory (pictured) made allegations of rape and sexual assault on an Instagram account

Another claimed staff left her alone in a room with a boy who she accused of sexually assaulting her.

A third commented: ‘It’s not just the private schools with issues. There is no sex education whatsoever at this school, never mind any talk about consent.

Grammar school boys face probe over ‘sex slurs and gang rape references’ made during live Instagram broadcast

Teenagers at a boys’ grammar school are facing a probe after allegedly joking about gang rape on Instagram.

Students from The King’s School in Grantham, Lincolnshire, made the remarks during a live broadcast on social media.

The selective grammar, which prides itself on its ‘excellent learning environment and illustrious history’, boasts alumni including Sir Isaac Newton, who studied at the elite school in 1655.

The group, who are understood to be in Years 12 and 13 and aged 16-18, allegedly said girls should ‘take rape as a compliment’ and made sexist remarks about women, prompting complaints from worried parents.

A spokesman for The King’s School told MailOnline the ‘repugnant, sexist and misogynistic’ comments were made during a live Instagram stream held in the aftermath of the murder of Sarah Everard.

‘There is too much focus on the religion of the school, with little understanding that everyone is still just a teenager that really, really needs to be taught about consent, respecting boundaries. It is appalling and shows in so many things people do and say.’

Its headmaster said in a letter: ‘I would also like to take this opportunity to thank those many pupils, both male and female, past and present, who have approached me to alert me to their alternative experiences of life at the school.’

He then took a quote from another letter collectively signed by the group, with read: ‘If anything good comes of this, let it be a clearer understanding amongst all the pupils of the physical and spiritual dangers of present day cultural norms […] and the necessity of chastity and sacraments, in particular regular confession, holy communion and the sacrament of marriage.’

Former Lib Dem leader Mr Clegg’s eldest son Antonio is understood to have attended the school.

Former PM Mr Blair also sent his two eldest sons, Nicky and Euan, to London Oratory with daughter Kathryn believed to have joined in sixth form.

A spokesman for London Oratory said: ‘The school was made aware of a number of concerning but unspecified allegations of sexual harassment and assault amongst its pupils, via a social media platform.

‘We have encouraged affected pupils to refer any matters to the police as these are criminal matters. 

‘On hearing the news, we aligned our established and extensive counselling team.  Last week we swiftly opened a solution focused dialogue to address the full spectrum of pupil concerns.’  

Meanwhile, former-prime minister Tony Blair sent his two eldest sons, Nicky (far left) and Euan (second left), to London Oratory with daughter Kathryn (far right) believed to have joined in sixth form

Meanwhile, former-prime minister Tony Blair sent his two eldest sons, Nicky (far left) and Euan (second left), to London Oratory with daughter Kathryn (far right) believed to have joined in sixth form

The claims came just days after pupils at Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith, west London said their school has a ‘rape culture’.

It contacted pupils and alumni to offer support after youngsters reported a ‘toxic environment’ within the £20,000-a-year co-educational school.

Headteacher David Goodhew said he was ‘troubled’ by the anonymous allegations made online.

They included claims female students had been assaulted by their male counterparts and coerced into sex acts.

Social media campaign Everyone’s Invited has received hundreds of anonymous claims of sexual abuse.

Nick Clegg's eldest son Antonio is understood to have attended London Oratory. Pictured: The former deputy PM

Nick Clegg’s eldest son Antonio is understood to have attended London Oratory. Pictured: The former deputy PM

They involve pupils from some of Britain’s leading private schools including Eton and St Paul’s Boys School in Barnes, south-west London.

Pupils at Latymer said it had a ‘serious and ongoing problem’. A second website has since been set up to demand the school tackles its alleged ‘rape culture’.

The school, where alumni include actor Hugh Grant and model Lily Cole, said it had alerted parents and the local council’s child safeguarding officer to the allegations.

One shocking account claimed some ‘rich, white, privileged boys’ at the school were ‘predators’ who forced girls into performing sex acts.

Girls alleged boys made ‘sexual comments’ to them in the classroom, compared nude photographs of them and ranked them based on their faces and bodies.

Pupils said they were bullied and sexually harassed during lessons and that teachers had ignored the behaviour.

Parents who complained to the school were also ignored, according to some of the accounts on the Everyone’s Invited website.

One anonymous writer said they had been repeatedly sexually harassed in a classroom by a boy.

They said: ‘The teacher could also see this happening every lesson and the other boys laughing and chose to ignore it.’  

Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith, London, contacted pupils and alumni to offer support after youngsters reported a 'toxic environment' at the £20,000-a-year school (file photo)

Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith, London, contacted pupils and alumni to offer support after youngsters reported a ‘toxic environment’ at the £20,000-a-year school (file photo)

Latymer said: ‘It was deeply disturbing reading the accounts by young women, and men, of alleged incidents that have occurred, both on-site and outside of schools or university campuses across the UK.

‘We are full of respect and compassion for all of those who shared their harrowing stories.

‘We were troubled to see a number of the stories and experiences attributed to Latymerians.

‘The welfare of our students and alumni is of the utmost importance to us and we take any report or allegation made by a member of our community extremely seriously.

‘Sexual harassment and abuse have no place at Latymer or in the wider world. Such behaviours are completely incompatible with Latymer’s values and contrary to our ethos of respect for others.

‘Our policies around safeguarding and anti-bullying stress a zero tolerance approach to behaviours that foster the prevalence of misogyny, sexism, harassment, abuse and assault.’ 

Condemning the actions described, St Paul’s Boys School said it had also reported the website allegations to its local council’s safeguarding team.

Eton said it took any allegations ‘extremely seriously’, would investigate thoroughly and take appropriate disciplinary action.   

Pupils stage walk out at £22,000-a-year Highgate School in London in protest over ‘toxic rape culture’ – as former Appeal Court judge is appointed to oversee review of complaints 

By James Gant  

Pupils yesterday staged a walk out at one of the best private schools in the country in protest against an alleged ‘toxic rape culture’.

Boys and girls hugged each other outside the £22,000-a-year Highgate School in north London after claims emerged from current and former students.

They were also understood to have stood in front of headmaster Adam Pettitt’s office as a show of strength.

One female demonstrator held up a placard which read: ‘We stand strong, we stand tall and most importantly we stand together.’

Another raised one which said: ‘Sexual violence is not bullying. It is a violation of human rights.

The protest comes after a dossier was sent from former and current pupils to the governors listing abuse and harassment at the 456-year-old school which was ranked the best independent School of the Year in 2020 by TES.

The London day school, whose alumni include poet Sir John Betjeman, composer John Rutter, the late F1 commentator Murray Walker and cricketer Phil Tufnell, regularly ranks among the top-performing schools in exams in the country.

Boys and girls hugged each other outside the £22,000-a-year Highgate School in north London after claims emerged from current and former students

Boys and girls hugged each other outside the £22,000-a-year Highgate School in north London after claims emerged from current and former students

They were also understood to have stood in front of headmaster Adam Pettitt's office as a show of strength

They were also understood to have stood in front of headmaster Adam Pettitt’s office as a show of strength

Last year, it sent 25 pupils to Oxbridge after 86 per cent of A Levels taken by pupils were awarded an A* or A.

The allegations come amid similar claims from former pupils from a number of elite private schools of a culture of sexual abuse.

Today the school announced it had appointed former Appeal Court judge Anne Rafferty to lead an independent review into pupils’ testimonies. 

One told the Times a boy had hounded Year 8 girls into send him naked pictures of themselves.

On a different occasion male students were said to have chanted encouragement after another was suspended for abusing a girl who later left.

The ex-pupil said: ‘The boys banded together and would chant his name at parties as if he was the one being treated unjustly.

‘Anyone who spoke against him was talked down they were silenced by this culture of protecting abusers. The boys were allowed to run wild.

‘The culture was so toxic that my friends and I didn’t realise it was so bad until we left to go to university and had normal friendships with men.’

One female demonstrator held up a placard which read: 'We stand strong, we stand tall and most importantly we stand together'

One female demonstrator held up a placard which read: ‘We stand strong, we stand tall and most importantly we stand together’

The protest comes after a dossier was sent from former and current pupils to the governors listing abuse and harassment at the 456-year-old school

The protest comes after a dossier was sent from former and current pupils to the governors listing abuse and harassment at the 456-year-old school

Headteacher Mr Pettitt told MailOnline: ‘Sexual harassment, abuse, intimidation and violence against girls and women are abhorrent, and we condemn them utterly.

‘The testimonies are devastating and it is clear from the passionate voices of our young people that, despite all we do to safeguard pupils, we haven’t done enough to tackle the issue of peer on peer sexual violence and harassment against girls.

‘I want to apologise to the girls and women at Highgate for the ways you have been made to suffer. I am truly sorry.

‘Safeguarding every child in our care continues to be at the heart of what we do as a school.

‘Our commitment to action has to be real and deep. We will be commissioning an independent review of the issues raised in the testimonies following a listening exercise with our pupils, alumni, staff and parents; we will be working with external partners to enhance our PSHE and to improve staff training to challenge and eradicate sexism and sexual harassment.

‘We recognise the urgent need for systemic change and we at Highgate are fully committed to playing our part.’    

One told the Times a boy had hounded Year 8 girls into send him naked pictures of themselves

One told the Times a boy had hounded Year 8 girls into send him naked pictures of themselves

In a statement, Highgate School Governing Body added: ‘We are deeply shocked and horrified by the allegations that have recently come to light through the ”Everyone’s Invited” website.

‘The Highgate they describe runs entirely contrary to the values of our whole community and we echo what our Head, Adam Pettitt, has already said in apologising to any victim of sexual harassment or abuse who was not properly supported during their time at Highgate. We are truly sorry.

‘The Governing Body has commissioned an immediate external review of the allegations led by a team of professionals with expertise in this field.

‘The review will transparently scrutinise exactly what took place. We will make public its findings when they are available, and we are committed to taking whatever action is required to achieve the necessary culture change at Highgate.

‘We have reassured our parents and carers that safeguarding every child in our care continues to be at the heart of what we do as a school. We are encouraging all of our pupils, past and present, who wish to share their experiences, or to give feedback anonymously, to contribute to the review.

‘Their voices will be heard. We also fully support and commend the actions of our pupils today, standing in solidarity with all victims of sexual harassment or abuse.’ 

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