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Woman Deals With Long-Term Impact Of Sex Abuse At The Hotchkiss School

Hilary Mullins stands outside her Vermont home after she detailed the abuse she suffered as a teenager by two teachers from the Connecticut boarding school. Photo by Frankie Graziano for Connecticut Public Radio

Hilary Mullins stands outside her Vermont home after she detailed the abuse she suffered as a teenager by two teachers from the Connecticut boarding school. Photo by Frankie Graziano for Connecticut Public Radio

An investigation has found that seven former faculty members at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville sexually abused students over a 23-year period.

The school hired a law firm to conduct the investigation and write a report, which it released earlier this month.

Now, one of the victims is speaking out.

Hilary Mullins was 14, sitting on a couch in her teacher’s house.

“It’s cool. He’s got a wood fire going and all this,” Mullins said. “He made physicality seem nice. He’d give you a hug–it’d feel so good. He puts his arm around me and he starts to work his way into me. I said to him at the time: ‘I wouldn’t have never let anyone else do that.”

Mullins had been sexually abused before. “As a kid,” she said. But she didn’t realize that it was happening again.

She looks back on it now differently, characterizing her one-time teacher as a “heat-seeking missile.”

“I was an easy mark and I think he completely knew,” Mullins said.

The teacher was Leif Thorne-Thomsen. He was 20 years older than her. He’s named in the investigative report by Hotchkiss. The investigators corroborated the accounts of seven students who accused Thorne-Thomsen of sexual misconduct.

You won’t find Mullins’ name listed in that independent investigation. Instead, she said she’s the person identified only as “Student 4.”

The report says that a second teacher had sex with her when she was 17.

“I was his student. He didn’t just seek me out, I was his student,” said Mullins. “He was an amazing teacher for me.”

His name was Christopher Carlisle.

Visit Connecticut Public Radio for the full story.