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October 20th, 2023

Private Boys School Sued for Sexual Assault and Years of Cover-Up

Private Boys School Sued for Sexual Assault and Years of Cover-Up

BALTIMORE (October 13, 2023) – A civil complaint has been filed against Gilman School, a private, all-boys school in Baltimore, on behalf of former student Matthew Wolf. The suit alleges that the school permitted and facilitated sexual misconduct by former science teacher and multi-sports coach Dr. Martin Meloy and deliberately concealed for more than a dozen years at least 13 reports of abuse against other boys.

The lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City by attorneys for the victim, Guy D’Andrea of Laffey Bucci D’Andrea Reich & Ryan in Philadelphia, and William Pittard of KaiserDillon in Washington, D.C.

Wolf attended Gilman, a K-12 school in the Roland Park neighborhood of Baltimore, from 1983 to 1995, when he graduated at age 18. Wolf alleges that Meloy – who worked at the school from 1983 to 2009 – misused his role as a teacher and coach to engage in physical misconduct, including sexual massages, over a span of four years, starting when Wolf was about 13 and in the seventh grade. The complaint alleges that Gilman failed to take reasonable steps to protect Wolf from Meloy.

“Our client endured an immeasurable degree of suffering and humiliation at the hands of Dr. Meloy,” said he. “The school’s faculty, coaches, and staff members knew of and had observed Dr. Meloy’s grooming of teenage boys for many years. They saw Dr. Meloy distribute expensive gifts to boys from the trunk of his car and school office and witnessed him engaging in boundary-crossing behavior that should have been questioned. Yet, the leadership team looked the other way and failed to take any steps to protect Matt or the other students from this teacher’s predatory behavior.”

Before becoming a teacher, Meloy had been a pro scout for the Cleveland Indians baseball team and coached Hall-of-Fame Baltimore Orioles player Cal Ripken as a youth. Wolf felt flattered by the varsity coach’s attention, given his love of the sport and Meloy’s athletic background. The complaint alleges that Meloy established a rapport with Wolf, showing favoritism inside the classroom and inviting him to lunch on and off campus multiple times to discuss baseball. Meloy groomed Wolf, frequently holding private practice sessions on the Gilman field, arranging all-expense-paid weekend outings to batting cages, and inviting him to his home for overnight visits.

During those overnight stays, which often involved dinners out and movies, Meloy asked Wolf to undress so he could massage his “tight” hamstrings, back, and legs, during which the teacher also groped the boy’s genitals. Wolf estimates this happened 12 to 15 times. The suit also alleges that Meloy pressured Wolf into providing his own naked massages. After each visit, Meloy, who died in 2015, gave Wolf gifts of expensive sports merchandise worth hundreds of dollars.

The lawsuit notes that in 2008, Gilman received complaints of sexual misconduct against Meloy from two former students about incidents that allegedly occurred in the 1990s and were similar, but unrelated, to Wolf’s experiences. The school referred the matter to the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office. In 2009, authorities and Meloy agreed he would have no unsupervised contact with minors for five years.

Although the school put Meloy on paid leave when the allegations were made, Gilman falsely told the faculty and community that Meloy was taking a sabbatical for health reasons. The school ultimately allowed Meloy to take early retirement rather than be terminated. The school continued to suppress the disclosure of Meloy’s actions, and, for the next dozen years, publicly heralded Meloy as a beloved and respected former teacher and coach.

“The school deliberately and intentionally lied about and concealed the allegations to protect and preserve its own reputation and brand,” said he. “Gilman tried to insulate itself from legal liability, including damages that it owed to abused students for its negligent supervision and retention of Dr. Meloy.”

In late 2019, after another survivor contacted Gilman about Meloy, the school hired a private consultant, T&M USA, to conduct a year-long external review. They concluded that the teacher abused at least 13 students during his time at Gilman, noting that the true number of his victims is likely greater; T&M interviewed only “self-identified victims who came forward to either the school or T&M,” and did not contact former students who many have been potential victims.

Meanwhile, charges recently were lodged against another Gilman teacher. Christopher Bendann, 39, of Towson, was charged in August 2023 on five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of possession of child pornography. He worked at Gilman from 2007 to 2023.

Anyone with information about Gilman School or who survived sexual misconduct at the school is encouraged to contact Laffey Bucci D’Andrea Reich & Ryan’s sex crime victims’ hotline at 800-220-7600 to begin the path to healing. Attorney Guy D’Andrea can be reached at GDAndrea@laffeybucci.com.

Laffey Bucci D’Andrea Reich & Ryan LLP is a trauma-informed, personal injury law firm based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that represents individuals seriously injured due to the negligence of others. Their crime victim department is made up of former sex crimes prosecutors who solely represent survivors of abuse, assault, and human trafficking nationwide. They are currently lead counsel in various well-known sexual abuse lawsuits across the country, including litigation against the Southern Baptist Convention for their cover-up of sexual abuse. The attorneys at the firm have more than 50 years of combined experience and have obtained more than $500 million on behalf of their clients, including a $52,000,000 settlement in 2020 on behalf of 29 victims of the Miracle Meadows School in West Virginia. They also have offices in California, Delaware, West Virginia, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York.