Report: Two former Greenwich Country Day teachers abused children

GREENWICH — An investigation has found that two former teachers at Greenwich Country Day School sexually abused at least eight students during their time at the school from the late 1960s through the 1990s, school officials have announced.

Headmaster Adam Rohdie sent an email informing families and faculty Friday of the findings in a report filed by a law firm hired by the school, Shipman & Goodwin LLP.

Peter French, who taught at GCDS from 1961 to 1999, and Jim Arden, who taught from 1970 to 2001, allegedly engaged in inappropriate sexual contact of children at the private school, Rohdie said. Its investigation began after allegations were lodged last September, he said.

French “engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with at least five students from the 1960s through the 1980s,” Rohdie said in the email.

“Shipman interviewed Mr. French and confronted him with the evidence against him, and he admitted that he had engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with students,” Rohdie said. “GCDS has reported Mr. French to the Department of Children and Families, as well as to law enforcement in the community where he currently resides.”

The name of that community was not available Tuesday.

Shipman also found that Arden, who died in 2016, abused at least three students during his tenure, he said.

“While this undertaking is incredibly painful, we hope that our recent efforts to investigate past abuse and our subsequent sharing of these findings can help bring some comfort to victims of past abuse,” Rohdie said. “Such conduct is unconscionable, and no child should ever be exposed to it at a school or anywhere else.”

Greenwich Country Day, founded in 1926, is a coeducational private school with 900 students enrolled in preschool through ninth grade. It is located on 92 acres in central Greenwich. President George H.W. Bush, actress Bryce Dallas Howard and Olympic rowers and social media pioneers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are among the school’s alumni.

Arden was a science teacher at Greenwich Country Day for 31 years. He founded The Jim Arden Foundation after his retirement, dedicated to helping homeless children in Tanzania get an education and an enhanced quality of life. During his teaching days, Arden led trips with his Country Day seventh- and ninth-grade students to Africa for 25 years.

French was also a science teacher at Greenwich Country Day.

”There’s no question. I would say this is true of independent schools as a whole: They’re significantly different institutions than they were 30 years ago, and the reporting standards, the training, the processes put in place, are all much more vigilant in terms of how we think about protecting children,” Rohdie told Greenwich Time on Tuesday. “And I think that we clearly know today a lot more than I think they knew years ago, and as a result I think our schools are much safer places.”

Rohdie, who has been at the school for 14 years, said he did not know the two teachers.

The headmaster said alumni of the school came forward as part of the investigation.

“We know that no action that we take today will erase the deep pain caused, but we do hope that our commitment, now and in the future, to confront all such behavior, may bring some healing,” Rohdie said. “This report also allows me, once again, to offer my deepest personal apologies and to apologize on behalf of the school, and to offer our help and support to the survivors of misconduct.”

Rohdie said the school now adheres “to formal policies and procedures” to prevent such incidents.

“Every member of our faculty and staff receives training sessions on boundary issues, sexual harassment prevention, and mandatory reporting,” he said.

All staff hired at the school undergo background checks by third-party agencies, Rohdie said.

Rohdie offered his contact information for anyone who wants to share additional information, or who has questions or concerns. He can be contacted by phone at 203-863-5650 or email at

Morgan Rueckert, a partner at Shipman investigating the case, can be contacted by phone at 860-251-5821 and email at; T: @jturianoGT; IG: @greenwichgreen