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January 3, 2013

Brooks School says former headmaster hired escorts

NORTH ANDOVER — A former headmaster of Brooks School allegedly had an inappropriate relationship with a student, and the school is asking alumni and parents to come forward with any new information about his conduct and behavior.

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.

"We have grave concerns about Mr. Becker's relationship with a student while serving as headmaster," according to the letter, written by current Head of School John R. Packard and the president of the Board of Trustees, William N. Booth. "In our judgment, his conduct in this relationship was objectionable, manipulative, and an abuse of his position."

The letter also revealed two incidents involving Becker and escorts he had hired. The first was in 2004, when school employees received calls that Becker had hired an escort and "engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior" during a school related business trip, according to the letter. A school spokesperson said he was traveling alone during that trip and the escort was not related to the school.

"Mr. Becker denied the allegations at the time and provided an account of his activities which, we now know, was untrue," Packard and Booth wrote in the letter.

The second incident occurred after Becker stepped down as headmaster. This past summer, "the school received a number of disturbing emails about Mr. Becker from an anonymous writer," according to the letter. After denying knowledge about the content of the emails and the emails' author, Becker told the school in September that he was being threatened by a male escort he had hired in the fall of 2011. Discovery of that behavior led the school to review Becker's entire tenure, Packard and Booth wrote.

Packard and Booth urged anyone with any information about Becker's conduct to email Packard at headofschool@brooksschool.org or call (978) 725-6239.

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