EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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January 4, 2013

Former Brooks headmaster involved with student

Inappropriate 'relationship' not reported to police or state

NORTH ANDOVER — A former Brooks School headmaster had an inappropriate relationship with a student at some point during his two decades at the school and at least one encounter with an escort while traveling on school business, school officials said in a letter sent to alumni yesterday.

Lawrence W. Becker, headmaster at Brooks from 1986 to 2008, had a relationship with a student during his tenure that the school judged to be “objectionable, manipulative, and an abuse of his position,” according to a letter sent out today to Brooks alumni and parents by the current Head of School, John R. Packard, and the president of the Board of Trustees, William N. Booth.

The two officials implored alumni and parents to contact the school with any information “that calls into question Mr. Becker’s conduct and/or oversight during his tenure.”

A spokeswoman for the school said that the relationship matter was handled by the president of the Board of Trustees at the time, publishing executive and two-time presidential candidate Steve Forbes, but no punishment was dealt and the full Board of Trustees was not notified about the relationship at all. The relationship also was not reported to law enforcement or state agencies.

“We have grave concerns about Mr. Becker’s relationship with a student while serving as headmaster,” Packard and Booth wrote. “In our judgment, his conduct in this relationship was objectionable, manipulative, and an abuse of his position.”

An email and a voice message left at Becker’s Bonita Springs, Fla., residence were not returned yesterday evening. Becker and his wife, who had taught French at Brooks School, split their time between Bonita Springs and Sandwich, Mass.

Karen Schwartzman, a public relations consultant with Polaris Public Relations who represents independent schools and was handling this issue for Brooks, would not disclose information about the student, the nature of the relationship, when the relationship took place, or the age of the student at the time.

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