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Actress alleges sexual assault while at Cranbrook

By Lisa Brody


Speaking first to anchor Savannah Guthrie on the Today show on Wednesday, May 11, and then in a People cover story, actress and activist Selma Blair alleged she was the victim of sexual assault by a faculty member when she was a student of Cranbrook Kingswood High School in the late 1980s.


Blair, class of Cranbrook Kingswood 1990, has written a memoir, Mean Baby, in which, according to an excerpt in People, she shared the pain and trauma she endured after a trusted authority figure at the school allegedly assaulted her.


"I counted on him for everything," Blair says of her relationship with one of the deans of Cranbrook boarding school she attended in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, according to the magazine. "I really couldn't believe my good fortune in having such a wonderful mentor and friend. What hurt me from this was that he would make such a mistake. That was it."


According to the memoir, “I thought he was the greatest man I had ever met," she writes. "Handsome. Tall. So generous. I'm sure you can see where this is all going. But at that time, I couldn't have predicted it. I trusted authority. I was just a teenager.


"We embraced. It felt too long and too still and too quiet," she writes. "His hand went to the small of my back, tracing the space just above my tailbone. His lips were on my mouth. Please, I thought. Please don't go under my pants, my dress-code-approved Ralph Lauren khakis into which I'd carefully tucked a plaid shirt. Please. You are a grown-up and I love you; please do not put your hand inside my pants. But he did. It was a simple thing. He didn't rape me. He didn't threaten me. But he broke me. Nothing ever happened again, but I never felt safe."


Blair, who graduated Cranbrook as Blair Beitner, said she told her mother, who said, “"You must not tell anybody. He's beloved at that school. And you'll just be a troubled girl.”


Clay Matthews, director of communications for Cranbrook Schools, acknowledged the school learned late yesterday about the People article and her memoir, “and an incident of sexual misconduct, and from what we saw in People magazine, it was a dean. We will not speculate who it was. Deans can mean a lot of different things at Cranbrook Kingswood,” noting in the late 1980s, as Cranbrook and Kingswood were combining into one high school, there were two sets of deans at various levels. So far, Blair had not contacted the school about the sexual assault.


“We do not have reason to believe that individual is still employed at Cranbrook,” Matthews emphasized.


Matthews said this incident, like one from April 12 this year when a Cranbrook graduate had informed the schools that he had experienced, while a student at the school, sexual misconduct involving a former faculty member (1946-1961), or any other such allegations, are being referred to Linda Burwell, an independent investigator conducting a completely independent examination of any and all purported sexual misconduct in the schools.


“We do not know what Ms. Burwell has uncovered. It's an independent investigation,” Matthews said.


Cranbrook Schools officials have said that anyone who wants to provide information or report similar sexual assault claims at the school can reach out directly to Linda Burwell at 800.954.1766 or by email at linda@nationalinvestigationcounsel.com.

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