September 21, 2010

Former teacher at Sidwell gets probation in sex abuse case

A longtime teacher at Sidwell Friends School was placed on five years of probation Monday for fondling a 15-year-old student, the result of an earlier plea agreement with prosecutors that spared the victim from having to testify in court. Robert A. "Pete" Peterson, 65, will not serve time in jail. But he has been fired by the school, must register on Maryland's online sex offender listing and can no longer be around children without another adult present.

"I believe we're masters of our fate by the decisions that we make, and I've made some bad ones," Peterson said in court Monday, his first public comments since being charged earlier this year.

Peterson taught seventh and eighth grades at Sidwell, one of the Washington area's premiere private schools. He apologized to the victim, the victim's family and his own family. "I am truly sorry," he said, standing in a ninth-floor courtroom in Rockville. "As a teacher for over 40 years, I have often advised my students that when they've gotten into trouble or made a serious mistake, they should stand tall and face the situation directly. They should never lie or try to weasel out of the consequences. I want to live up to that principle. I intend to face the consequences, and more importantly make amends for the damage done."

Peterson earlier pleaded guilty to one count of sex abuse of a minor. SOURCE: Washington Post

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