New Report Identifies Additional 15 Victims of Sexual Misconduct at St. Paul’s School
By Danny McDonald
November 2, 2017
[See also the report.]
|St. Paul's School is a private school in Concord, N.H.|
St. Paul’s School has identified 15 additional victims in an ongoing investigation into sexual misconduct at the elite Concord, N.H., school, and five faculty members who are newly suspected of improper conduct, according to a report issued to the school community Wednesday.
The report, the second in six months detailing misconduct at the school, lists allegations of what school officials termed “profoundly disturbing” sexual behavior at the school over a span of 53 years, from 1956 to 2009, according to the letter to the school community.
The new report presents investigators’ findings relating to the alleged sexual misconduct of 16 former faculty members and staff. Of that number, five were reported for the first time, 11 were previously known to investigators.
“The experiences described in this and the previous reports are profoundly disturbing and shine light on a part of our history that is painful to see and hear,” said Michael G. Hirschfeld, rector of the Episcopal school, and trustees’ president Archibald Cox Jr. in the letter dated Nov. 1. “However, this history must be confronted directly in order to heal. The survivors of sexual abuse, and our entire community deserve no less.”
In May, a report found that 13 former faculty and staff members at St. Paul’s School engaged in sexual misconduct with students over four decades, and faulted school leaders for their handling of the abuse. The May report took a look at sexual misconduct allegations up to 1988.
Since that report, a team from Casner & Edwards law firm that included former Massachusetts attorney general Scott Harshbarger has interviewed 43 people, according to Hirschfeld and Cox’s letter to the St. Paul’s community.
In an e-mail Wednesday evening, school spokeswoman Sarah Aldag said the school anticipated that the May report would prompt more people to speak out. She added that the school continues to retain the law firm in order “to provide those who want to come forward the opportunity to do so.”
The 30-page report released Wednesday provides detailed accounts of the alleged abuse, and names seven former staff members “who engaged in sexual misconduct against one or more alumni/ae,” the report states. Four of the seven are deceased.
One former student alleged that a longtime St. Paul’s staff member who died in 1992 took him and another male student to a New York City hotel to have sex with prostitutes. He had sex with a prostitute while the staff member was in the room, he told investigators. He also said the staff member had asked him and other students to take photos of their genitals.
Another student alleged that a St. Paul’s teacher and administrator, who died in 1993, pinned him to the floor during an assault in the teacher’s on-campus apartment in 1970. Another student alleged another longtime teacher, who left the school in 2009, sexually abused him during the early 1980s.
“We are inspired by the courage of those who have come forward,” read the letter sent to the St. Paul’s community. “We sincerely and with heavy hearts apologize to those who were harmed at the School. We are committed to taking all steps within our power to prevent this type of behavior and would not tolerate it today.”
In the letter, Hirschfeld and Cox reiterated their praise for the school’s commitment to supporting victims, enhancing the health and safety of the school through staff training, and maintaining a zero tolerance policy for adults who harm children.
But news of the latest allegations drew a sharp response from observers who have watched the investigation unfold at one of the nation’s most prestigious private schools.
The culture of St. Paul’s has to change, said Lyn Schollett, the executive director of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, on Wednesday night. She said the new report shows that the culture that permitted such abuse or turned a blind eye toward it existed for much longer than previously thought.
“It’s important to shine the light on serious crimes like this so that victims know that they’re not alone,” said Schollett. “The willingness of victims to come forward shows how long-lasting these crimes can be.”
Eric MacLeish, an attorney who has represented hundreds of sexual abuse victims and is currently representing former St. Paul’s students, said the report paints a “very disturbing picture.”
“It was out of control, there were a large number of faculty members who were preying on kids,” he said.
MacLeish said he expects more former St. Paul’s staff members to be accused of sexual misconduct.
“This is by no means all of the people that were engaged in this conduct with children,” he said.
In July, New Hampshire authorities announced they were launching a criminal investigation of the school following new reports of sexual misconduct. That probe is examining whether the school engaged in conduct that endangered the welfare of a child and whether the school violated a law that prohibits obstructing criminal investigations, according to New Hampshire authorities.
Messages left with the New Hampshire attorney general’s office were not immediately returned Wednesday night.
St. Paul’s is the latest prep school to investigate claims of misconduct following a 2016 Globe Spotlight story that reported on allegations of abuse by more than 200 victims at 67 private schools in New England.
With the additional allegations surfacing in the new report, MacLeish said St. Paul’s has “far and away the largest” number of former staff members who stand accused of sexual misconduct of “any school that I’m aware of.”
Referring to the priest sex abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church and had worldwide implications, MacLeish said, “This comes close to rivaling some of the more notorious Catholic dioceses.”