EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 22, 2013

Pike School: Teacher had 'inappropriate' relationship with student

Teacher was fired, lawsuit expected

ANDOVER — Officials at The Pike School say they expect a former student will sue the school, saying he was the victim of an “inappropriate” relationship with a woman faculty member when he attended Pike in the 1990s.

Pike’s Head of School John “Muddy” Waters said he fired the teacher – Judith Elefante (Judith Chapell at the time) – two years ago after the relationship came to light.

“Upon first hearing of this in 2011, Muddy immediately met with Ms. Elefante and she acknowledged only that she had provided advice and support to this particular alumnus while he was at Pike,” Waters and Andrew Chaban, chairman of the school’s Board of Trustees, said in a letter sent to the Pike School community yesterday.

“She confirmed that their relationship continued after he left Pike and that, in fact, the relationship developed into a sexual one,’’ the letter continued. “As a result, Muddy made a decision to terminate Ms. Elefante from further employment at Pike.’’

Elefante could not be reached for comment last night. A telephone call to the Boston office of her attorney Rebecca Pontikes was not returned.

Elefante, now 70, of Newburyport retired from teaching soon after being fired, according to Karen Schwartzman, a consultant with Polaris Public Relations who has been retained by the school.

“It was really a letter intended for the Pike community, explaining a situation this school is confronting and informing the community of this matter so they can be aware of it,” Schwartzman said yesterday.

Schwartzman declined to comment on the age or grade level of the student at the time of the relationship. The Pike School at 34 Sunset Rock Road is an independent, coed, day school for students in prekindergarten through grade nine.

“There is no assertion that there was any kind of physical relationship while the student was at The Pike School,” Schwartzman said. “The teacher did acknowledge that the relationship evolved later into a intimate and physical relationship after the student left Pike.’’

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