This is the true story of an elite Massachusetts boarding school that for years employed a ring of pedophiles in positions of power over boys ages 8 to 14. It is a true account of how these sexual predators singled out children to victimize, how they got away with it, and how the school could cover it up for decades.
John Sweeney was one of the children violated at The Fessenden School and in the beginning he thought he was the only one. (Wrong.) When he called his mother to tell her about the first sexual assault she didn’t believe him. When he ran to the headmaster’s office his story was dismissed as the active imagination of a pubescent boy.
Once a favored student with special privileges, Johnny then became a target for pedophile faculty living in his dorm and the damage done to his young psyche manifested itself for decades in otherwise inexplicable anxiety, shame, secrecy, self-hatred, guilt and depression. Like other sexually-abused children, John gravitated toward living on the edge, where sex, drugs and danger allowed him to forget.
After decades of struggling with his childhood secret out of the blue one day in 2011 Fessenden admitted to the public that the school had for years employed a child molester as assistant headmaster and there was the possibility that misconduct may have occurred on school grounds. The named assistant headmaster, Arthur Preston Clarridge, had been Johnny’s chief sexual and psychological torturer.
The shock of the truth emerging from the school after all these years was almost harder for John to deal with than the original crimes. When his father begged John for his forgiveness because he and Johnny’s mother had not believed him when Clarridge first sexually assaulted him, he was faced with a choice: did he undergo years of intense therapy to address the trauma of what had happened at Fessenden and seek justice? Or did he just crawl away in shame and die like a classmate?
At turns fascinating and horrific, cringe-worthy and laugh-out-loud funny, THE DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND by John Sweeney details the kinds of crimes that were committed at The Fessenden School and the kinds of damage they did to some of its students. So while the school continues to boast of famous alumni General George S. Patton, Howard Hughes, Ted Kennedy, Fessenden can now also boast of giving birth to a movement to eradicate the sexual abuse of children from every school, led by one of its less-heralded students, former Green Beret John Sweeney.
About the Author
John Sweeney is an ex Green Beret and child sex abuse survivor whose story of abuse at the Fessenden School was first broken by CBS News Correspondent Mitchell Miller. After 48 years of silence because of the shame he and other victims of child sex abuse fear, John was able to finally get the help he needed thanks to Brown Universities administered PTSD Clinic , thru the Providence VA. And once he got the help he needed, "Sweens" went back into "Green Beret" mode and planned his last mission. To help find the hundreds of victims that the school has hid from it's alumni for decades. "When I'm done with my truthful investigation", Sweeney say's" The only thing left standing tall from that school whose alumni include George Patton and Senator Ted Kennedy will be the VICTIMS"!!!