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March 5, 2013

Official tied to school abuse case

BEVERLY — A Rowley official is defending his reputation as more-than-20-year-old allegations of child sexual abuse while he was a teacher at Landmark School in Beverly have resurfaced.

Last week, court documents surrounding a 1990 lawsuit accusing Planning Board chairman and former teacher Curtis Bryant of repeated and forcible sexual abuse of a teenage boy over three years at the private school were unsealed, raising questions about his past.

The allegations never resulted in any criminal charges and the case was settled by the school out of court for an undisclosed sum, with the records sealed by the courts. The following year, Bryant, a science teacher and hockey coach at Landmark, left the well-known boarding and day school in the Prides Crossing section of Beverly. The school enrolls students in grades two through 12 from across the country with language-based learning disabilities.

Now, as more former students have reportedly come forward in recent months with allegations of abuse by staff members — including two more complaints against the 57-year-old Bryant — a spokeswoman for the Essex County district attorney’s office confirmed last week that the new allegations are “currently being investigated.”

Carrie Kimball Monahan could not say how long that investigation would take. She added that no criminal charges have been filed at this time.

The court records were unsealed last week following a motion by The Boston Globe seeking their release. Five months after the Globe filed its motion, the state Supreme Judicial Court denied a final attempt by lawyers for Bryant, the school and the victim to keep the records impounded, the Globe reported.

Bryant, a married father of two and former director of the Rowley Youth Baseball and Softball League, would not comment on the lawsuit when reached last week.

What Bryant would say is that his dedication to the town shows in his years of service to the community — seven years as the chairman of the Conservation Commission, many years as director of the youth league, parent leader for Triton Regional Schools’ enrichment programs and, currently, his role on the Planning Board, an elected position he has held for the last four years.

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