April 22, 2014 12:01 pm

Parents oppose school gala honouring folk singer Peter Yarrow

Peter Yarrow, pictured in 2011.

Jason Kempin / Getty Images

TORONTO — Parents of students at a New York high school are up in arms over plans to honour folk singer Peter Yarrow, who was convicted of a sex offence more than four decades ago.

Yarrow, of the famed group Peter, Paul and Mary, is scheduled to attend the La Guardia High School for the Performing Arts Hall of Fame Gala at Lincoln Centre on May 21.

The 75-year-old, whose songs include “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” is a graduate of the school.

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In 1970, Yarrow was convicted of taking “improper liberties” with a 14-year-old girl who went to his hotel room seeking an autograph. He served three months behind bars.

Yarrow later apologized (“I was wrong. I’m sorry for it”) and U.S. President Jimmy Carter, on his last day in office in 1981, granted Yarrow a pardon.

According to the New York Post, one parent called the choice of Yarrow “disgusting” while another asked: “Is this really the best choice for someone to honour and be on stage with these children?”

This year’s gala, dubbed “Peace, Love, and the Power of Song: Celebrating Peter Yarrow,” will be hosted by Al Roker and Deborah Roberts and is scheduled to include appearances by Broadway performer Anika Larsen, actress Ally Sheedy and playwright Jason Robert Brown.

According to the Post, a teacher at the school told students they are not required to perform at the gala if they are uncomfortable. At least a dozen have reportedly refused.

In a statement to the Post, Yarrow said: “I hope that my contrition and my efforts to help humanity over the years will allow me a measure of the public’s forgiveness.”

© Shaw Media, 2014

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