We, the Sonoma Academy Board of Trustees, write today to share the full report and findings prepared by independent counsel Debevoise & Plimpton. Debevoise was hired in June to conduct a full investigation into inappropriate behavior or sexual misconduct toward Sonoma Academy students by current or former Sonoma Academy personnel, including former teacher Marco Morrone. Additionally, they were charged with addressing whether current or former Sonoma Academy employees or trustees had knowledge of any inappropriate behavior or sexual misconduct toward Sonoma Academy students by Sonoma Academy personnel and, if so, what actions, if any, Sonoma Academy administrators took to address it.
In the interest of accountability, transparency, and healing, we write today to share the full investigation report, which we have posted to the Sonoma Academy website in its entirety.
Debevoise’s investigation uncovered serious misconduct by several former employees toward Sonoma Academy students, including inappropriate boundary crossing by Morrone toward at least 34 students and sexual abuse of students by two other former employees—former assistant girls’ soccer coach Shannon Rake (2002-2003), and Adrian Belic, who taught a short Intersession course on documentary filmmaking in 2004. This information has been shared with law enforcement, and Sonoma Academy will fully cooperate in any law enforcement investigation.
We are heartbroken by the events detailed within this report, not just the serious misconduct by three former employees but also the failure of school leaders to act when they learned that students under their care were being subjected to abuse. It is with heartfelt humility that we apologize for what our alumni endured as a result of their painful experiences.
We recognize that the information contained in the report will be difficult to read, but we are sharing the full and unredacted report in the interest of accountability and with an eye toward healing. Please note that the report includes details that are not intended for children and that the contents of the report may be upsetting or triggering.
Sonoma Academy has worked to improve its policies, procedures, and training in the two years before this investigation was launched, and there are still additional and important improvements that need to be made. As we take our next steps forward in that critical work, the Board is forming a committee to oversee the school’s student safety efforts and to ensure that the recommendations from this report are implemented.
We are deeply grateful to those who participated in the investigation We are also thankful to members of the Athena Project, as well as other members of our community who called on Sonoma Academy to address its failings and to examine the culture and practices that allowed this misconduct to occur and continue for as long as it did. While this marks the end of Debevoise’s investigative efforts, the investigators will remain available at SAInvestigation@Debevoise.com
should anyone have further information. We want our community to know that we stand ready to listen and to act if there is anything about your experience here at SA that we should know.
We have worked to provide alumni who were impacted by the misconduct of school personnel with resources to help them on the path toward healing, and we will continue to do so. To that end, we partnered with RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, to assist alumni and former students with costs related to therapy. When we announced the therapy fund in September, we committed to reimbursement of costs of therapy for the three-year period starting in September 2021. Having received feedback from alumni and learning more through the independent investigation, those reimbursements will now include costs incurred before September 2021. Information on the therapy fund is available here
We have no greater duty than to protect the students in our care, and we take responsibility for the harm done to former students, as well as the failures of those whose responsibility it was to prevent and respond to such harm. We are committed to the healing process for our alumni survivors of misconduct, and to working to protect the students and staffulty members who call SA home.
The Sonoma Academy Board of Trustees