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The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (The NYSPCC) hosted its Sixth Annual Spring Luncheon yesterday at The Pierre Hotel in Manhattan as part of its efforts to raise awareness surrounding National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

The fundraising event was packed with VIP guests, including Brooke Shields, new ACS Commissioner David Hansell, Dori Cooperman, Diandra Douglas, Jean Shafiroff, model Frederique van der Wal, Michael Gross, actor Tom Pelphrey, Valesca Guerrand-Hermès and Wendy Neuss.

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This year’s guest speaker was Eric MacLeish, the renowned attorney who was portrayed in the Oscar-winning film Spotlight for his past work defending hundreds of victims of sexual abuse against the Archdiocese of Boston. During his remarks, MacLeish talked at length about his recent work as the attorney for one of the victims in the Choate Rosemary Hall private school scandal –  a case that was unveiled last Thursday in a stunning report which exposed decades of sexual abuse by faculty.

“Private schools could do enormous good by championing the way on much needed legislation that could make a real difference in the protection of children,” said MacLeish. “Here in New York, private schools do not have to report abuse that takes place internally to law enforcement. Right now, if a teacher sexually assaults a student in a private school, there is no obligation to report that teacher to law enforcement.  There is if he or she is a public school teacher, but not in a private school.”

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In a powerful call-to-action, Dr. Mary L. Pulido, the Executive Director of The NYSPCC, urged guests to call upon local legislators to change New York State’s Education Law. “We helped author a bill that would ensure these protections for private school children. It has been passed by the Senate Children and Families Committee.  In the Assembly, we’re making progress, but still have work to do.  I urge all of you to help us get this law passed. You can call Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan who chairs the Education Committee or Senator John J. Flanagan. We want children in private schools protected!”

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Via High 10 Media. Photos by Jared Siskin for Patrick McMullan.