Beauties vs. Beasts

by Michael Gross Photographed by Jared Siskin/PMC
Thursday, April 20, 2017

A batch of New York’s most beautiful women, and a handful of men, dined on salads and salmon at The Pierre on Wednesday to help prevent the ugliest crime of all, child abuse, as The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC) hosted its Sixth Annual Spring Luncheon.

The powerful speaker was Eric MacLeish, the renowned attorney who was portrayed in the Oscar-winning film Spotlight for his 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.

Dr. Mary L. Pulido, the Executive Director of the NYSPCC, shocked the crowd by explaining that private school administrators are not required by law to report abuse of students by staff to authorities. “We have to stop this,” said luncheon co-chair Valesca Guerrand-Hermès.

MacLeish joked that he was speaking under two shadows, one created by the Choate scandal, but also memories of the speaker at last year’s lunch, Drew Barrymore. “I’m completely terrified,” he admitted. Then, he called Spotlight a tribute to journalists. “This is not fake news,” he said. “It’s completely accurate.” But he added that his daughter thinks his portrayal in the film was “complete fiction,” because Billy Crudup, who played him, “is gorgeous.”

Addressing private schools in general, MacLeish demanded that they “take a moral inventory,” which earned him a standing ovation, and, after Guerrand-Hermès returned to the podium, prompted two guests to donate $10,000 each, four more to pledge $5,000, and inspired countless more smaller gifts. “Wow,” said Guerrand-Hermès, “I’m getting goose pimples.”

Among the guests were Brooke Shields, ACS Commissioner David Hansell, Dori Cooperman, Diandra Douglas, Jean Shafiroff, models Frederique van der Wal and Jessica Hart, actor Tom Pelphrey, Janna Bullock, Sandra Ripert, Joyce Varvatos, Paola Bacchini Rosenschein and Wendy Neuss.

The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is the first — and one of the most highly respected — child protective agencies in the world. Founded in 1875, the NYSPCC helps the most vulnerable children of our community recover from trauma. And, more importantly, it helps prevent child abuse through its work with parents, teachers, children and foster care agencies. More than a century since its founding, The NYSPCC’s amazing work is used as a model for child abuse prevention centers across the nation. The NYPSCC has investigated more than 650,000 cases on behalf of over two million children and has educated over 47,000 professionals working with children on child abuse and neglect issues. http://www.nyspcc.org


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