BOSTON – The principal of Gloucester High School who ignited a firestorm when he told a reporter that a group of students intentionally got pregnant stood by his comments Thursday, saying his information about the planned pregnancies "was and is accurate."
In his first public statement since the controversy erupted earlier this month, principal Joseph Sullivan said he does not specifically remember using the word "pact" in his interview with a Time magazine reporter, but he did not dispute it.
He said the reporter asked him if access to birth control through the school's health center would have prevented the spike in pregnancies — 17 last year compared to the typical four.
"I told her 'no' because my sources had informed me that a significant number of the pregnancies, especially among the younger students, were the result of deliberate and intentional behavior," Sullivan said.
Sullivan said his only direct source of information about the intentional pregnancies was the former nurse practitioner at the health center. He said he also heard "verbal staff reports and student/staff chatter."
Sullivan said he had been asked by school officials in this isolated fishing community 30 miles north of Boston not to speak publicly but issued the three-page statement Thursday "to put to rest the notion that I am 'foggy in my memory' or that when pressed, 'my memory failed."'
He was referring to earlier comments by Mayor Carolyn Kirk, who has said there is no evidence of such a pact and that Sullivan could not remember the source of his information.
Sullivan's statement was first reported in the online version of his hometown newspaper, the Gloucester Daily Times, and the accuracy was confirmed to The Associated Press by his attorney.
Kirk declined Thursday evening to address Sullivan's statement, but she defended her own response to the controversy.
"Teenagers in Gloucester are being hunted down by the national and even international media," she said. "And if I had to do it again, I would still stand up and protect the privacy of the families and defend the city against the sensationalized and unsubstantiated reports."