In 1989, Cheyenne Montgomery, who was 15 years old then, stumbled across some literature for a prestigious boarding school, Choate Rosemary Hall.
According to People magazine, she applied on a whim, hoping for a chance at a thriving future and to climb her way out of her poor upbringing.
In addition to her dreams and aspirations, Montgomery was also reportedly sexually abused as a child by a relative — a painful experience that added to her desire to go off to school.
To her absolute delight, Montgomery soon received not just an acceptance letter, but a full scholarship as well.
Upon her arrival, however, things weren’t as seamless as she expected. It seemed as though blending in with her wealthy peers was going to be a challenge — especially coming from her background, which involved a “shack house” in Vermont with no indoor bathroom, according to People.
As a result, she began confiding in one of her teachers and live-in advisers, Angus Mairs, who was 27 at the time.
Montgomery told People it wasn’t long before their relationship turned “confusing,” escalating from confidants to sexual partners:
“Kids get crushes on their teachers. It was a horrible thing to do to a young person.”
It lasted fairly long — only ending when Mairs relocated with his spouse during Montgomery’s senior year. Before Mairs left, however, he pleaded with Montgomery to keep their sexual relationship a secret.
Montgomery didn’t listen.
She soon told her replacement live-in adviser, Björn Runquist. He, too, was a married man.
Her admission to Runquist didn’t help Montgomery much, instead leading to yet another confidant-turned-sexual relationship. She told People:
“A month before I graduated [we] did have sex in an empty classroom.”
Though even after her graduation, the two continued to conduct what most would consider an inappropriate relationship. It wasn’t until another teacher witnessed her and Runquist interacting in a way most teachers and students wouldn’t when things reportedly died down.
Runquist was summoned by the school’s headmaster, yet he only admitted to “an emotional attachment” to Montgomery, not a sexual one.
Montgomery told People that the scars left from those relationships have remained with her, even now at 43 years old.
The following academic year, for which she received a full scholarship to college, Montgomery dropped out of school after a single semester because of the emotional trauma she was dealing with. She told People she even shaved her head so as not “to appear attractive,” saying:
“I became really paranoid I was going to die.”
It wasn’t until recently when she came across a Boston Globe feature on prep school sexual abuse. The similar experiences inspired her to finally reveal her story to others, sharing it on her Choate alumni group’s Facebook page. She told People that’s when her healing process began:
“My classmates really rallied.”
She and several supportive peers reached out to the school’s officials. Their concern became the catalyst to an entire investigation surrounding Montgomery’s horrifying experiences more than two decades later. And in April 2016, 12 teachers were reportedly found involved in cases of abuse, stalking, and rape since the 1960s.
According to People, both Mairs and Runquist denied any sexual relations with Montgomery to investigators and press, however, Runquist reportedly apologized to Montgomery for causing her pain in a 2016 Facebook message.
Although no legal repercussions have been reported, Montgomery told People that even sharing her story has helped her heal from the decades-old trauma, saying:
“If we keep secrets, it happens again and again and again.”
She said she’s still receiving counseling and feels empowered because her story has helped others going through the same thing — so much so that now, as a high school teacher herself, she’s writing a book about her experience, leaving no painful secrets behind.
To hear more of her story, check out the video below: