By ELIZABETH A. HARRIS

It has become almost routine in recent months: An elite prep school announces the result of an outside investigation revealing how faculty members sexually abused their students, while administrators did little, if anything, to protect the children in their care.

For the schools, which include places like Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.; the Pingry School in New Jersey; Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut and dozens more, the investigations are a way of owning up to past misconduct, and pledging that in a more transparent and enlightened time, children are safer in their hands.

For the victims, the investigations can be healing, a signal of recognition in the face of long-expired statutes of limitation.

But for the investigators, many of them at big law firms, they are good business, a lucrative new practice area taking its place among their professional offerings.

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