Probe finds sexual misconduct by 3 former staff at Gwinnett private school

Greater Atlanta Christian says incidents happened in the ‘70s, ‘80s and 2000s
Students at Greater Atlanta Christian make their way into the Senior High Complex. An investigation at the school found three former employees who engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior dating back to the 1970s. (AJC file photo)

Students at Greater Atlanta Christian make their way into the Senior High Complex. An investigation at the school found three former employees who engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior dating back to the 1970s. (AJC file photo)

An investigation of sexual misconduct at a private school in Gwinnett County identified three former employees who had inappropriate sexual behavior with students and staff.

Greater Atlanta Christian School shared the findings in a recent letter with current students, staff and families, along with alumni. School leaders said 10 former students reported being harmed by former employees. In most instances, the school stated it wasn’t aware of misconduct, but “in a small number of instances,” the school informed parents but not law enforcement or child protective services.

“We apologize to the former students not only for any mistreatment by any adults at our school, but for those times when school leadership did not manage these matters appropriately,” states the letter signed by Board of Trustees Chairman Gary Long and school President Scott Harsh, who first joined GAC in 1996 and became president in 2018. “We also thank them for their courage in coming forward so that we can learn from our mistakes and become a better and stronger school.”

Channel 2 Action News reported about the letter Wednesday. The school provided the letter Thursday to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

After receiving a report of sexual misconduct by a former faculty member in March 2023, the school informed community members and commissioned T&M USA, a security and investigations firm, to look into past instances of sexually inappropriate behavior by staff and interview individuals who came forward with firsthand experiences.

The firm did not receive any additional information regarding the first former employee reported. However, T&M USA shared information about three former employees, all men, accused of acting sexually inappropriately.

One employee was found to have “engaged in acts of sexual misconduct with three female students” in the late 1970s and the 1980s. The students were in grades 10 through 12.

The firm said a second employee in the early 1980s “engaged in separate instances of sexual misconduct with a faculty member and three female students who were in grades 8 through 11.”

T&M USA discovered a third employee in the 2000s engaged in sexual misconduct with a 17-year-old female student. After leaving the school, the man sent sexual messages online to another student. She reported the messages to the school, “but the school failed to offer appropriate support to her,” according to the letter from Harsh and Long.

The school has not named the former employees or anyone interviewed by T&M “because to do so would jeopardize the privacy of the former students, some of whom wish to remain anonymous,” Harsh and Long say in their letter.

Greater Atlanta Christian is an infant-12th grade school on Indian Trail Road in Norcross serving over 1,800 students. The school opened in 1968.

Greater Atlanta Christian said it has made reports to child protective services about the former employees. In situations where any of those men may be working with children, the school also contacted his current employer. It also has offered to pay for therapy for the former students harmed at the school.

Greater Atlanta Christian declined to provide details about the jobs the accused employees held or the years they worked at the school. It also declined to provide information about possible legal action related to the investigation’s findings.

Georgia law allows for victims of child sexual abuse to file a lawsuit until they are 23. Officials from the Gwinnett County police department and district attorney’s office each said their office is not actively investigating incidents at Greater Atlanta Christian.

“This investigation has helped us better understand our past, hold ourselves accountable, support those who have been harmed and, from this hard-learned lesson, do what we can to make our school safer. We can promise you that we will never become complacent when it comes to ensuring that students feel safe at our school,” Harsh and Long said.

They also encouraged anyone with information about employee misconduct to come forward.

The school’s letter last year announcing the investigation lists steps it says it takes to protect its students, including background checks of employees and volunteers; guidance to employees on adult-student boundaries, recognizing child abuse and mandatory reporting duties; and screening all campus visitors by checking driver’s licenses against the National Sex Offender Registry.