A man has been charged with possessing images of child sexual abuse while living in Hinsdale in 2018, three decades after being convicted of molesting boys at a residential school in Westminster, Vt.
Mark W. Davis, 58, was indicted on the new charges Jan. 26 in Cheshire County Superior Court. The four indictments allege he possessed explicit images of boys, including some as young as 6 to 8.
The available court records, which accuse him of possessing the images in April 2018, do not indicate why he was not charged earlier. His arraignment is scheduled for March 5.
The indictments list Davis as living at an address in Hinsdale, though town property records show he sold that house in 2019.
Reached by phone Monday, Davis declined to comment.
In 1990, he pleaded no contest to eight charges of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, stemming from allegations that he sexually abused multiple boys at the Kurn Hattin Homes for Children, a private residential school in Westminster for students from difficult homes, according to a Brattleboro Reformer article from the time. He was sentenced to two years in prison followed by a term of probation, the Reformer reported.
Then in his 20s, Davis had been living with his wife, a house parent, at a cottage that housed boys ages 9 to 12, according to the Reformer’s coverage and a police report from the time. Davis had previously worked as a house parent himself, though was not employed by Kurn Hattin at the time of his arrest in December 1989.
That month, Vermont State Police interviewed at least six boys who said Davis had sneaked into their rooms at night and touched their genitals directly or through their clothing, according to the police report.
Davis admitted to the abuse, according to the report, telling a detective that he had inappropriately touched three or four boys during an earlier stint at Kurn Hattin in 1986 and about 13 more after returning to Westminster in 1988. He told police he had been sexually abused himself and “his main motivation for these acts was anger toward the people that abused him as a child,” the detective, Sgt. Myles Heffernan, wrote.
An investigation last year by the news outlet VTDigger detailed allegations of physical, sexual and psychological abuse at Kurn Hattin stretching back to the 1940s, including a 2019 report by the Vermont Department for Children and Families that documented multiple instances of students sexually abusing other students and found Kurn Hattin had failed to report some incidents to the agency promptly.
Two law firms, representing separate groups of plaintiffs who allege they were abused as children at Kurn Hattin, were preparing lawsuits as of September, according to the news outlet.
Kurn Hattin gave up its license to operate a residential behavioral-treatment program for children in September, after DCF concluded administrators had not made the necessary changes, according to VTDigger. Kurn Hattin’s director disputed the DCF report and said it had relinquished its license for another reason — because it has always functioned as a school and does not serve students who need the higher level of care of a licensed treatment program, though the state said it has admitted such students.
The license relinquishment does not affect Kurn Hattin’s ability to continue operating as a private residential school, though the Vermont Agency of Education has said it is reviewing the program.