An Independent Investigation into Sexual Misconduct at St. Paul's School

 
Sarah Aldag
Director of Communications
St. Paul's School
603-229-4676
saldag@sps.edu
Tenley Rooney
Associate Director of Communications
St. Paul's School
603-229-4740
trooney@sps.edu
 
CONCORD, N.H.­­ May 22, 2017 – St. Paul’s School released today a report investigating sexual misconduct at the School. The report is the culmination of a nearly yearlong independent investigation conducted by the Casner & Edwards law firm in Boston, Mass.
 
The School requested the investigation in 2016 following the announcement that a former teacher, Howard White, who taught at the school from 1967 to 1971 was terminated from St. George’s School in 1974 for admitted sexual misconduct. The School found no complaints against White in its records, but elected to reexamine his time at St. Paul’s. Former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger led the Casner & Edwards team in outreach to former students and launched a wider, in-depth review about past behaviors of adults in the School community. As part of their investigation, they revisited a previous report done in 2000 and found that the scope of that investigation was inadequate.
 
The investigation reviewed the alleged conduct of thirty-four (34) faculty members and staff and found: 
  • Substantiated claims of sexual misconduct by thirteen (13) former faculty and staff members
  • Other reports of sexual misconduct by ten (10) former faculty and staff
  • Unsubstantiated allegations of sexual misconduct by eleven (11) current and former faculty and staff. These are claims that were shared anonymously and could not be substantiated.
 
The adults against whom substantiated claims were made are named in this report. However, survivors and witnesses have not been named.
 
 “We offer our most sincere apology to survivors for the wrongs that were done to them at St. Paul’s School” said Rector Michael G. Hirschfeld in a letter to the SPS community he co-signed with Board of Trustees President Archibald Cox, Jr.  “The failures uncovered in this report have hurt every member of our School community, none more so than the survivors of these abuses. It is with deep gratitude that we recognize the candor and courage of the survivors and witnesses who shared their experiences with Mr. Harshbarger and his team.”
 
In their letter, Hirschfeld and Cox noted two conclusions drawn from the report:
  • The School failed to protect students from sexual abuse and sexual misconduct done to them by adults entrusted with their care.
  • In many cases, the School failed to adequately investigate allegations of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct when they were brought to the attention of School leadership – a failing that has damaged trust in the School.
“There is no excuse for the failure to pursue allegations when they were initially made in 2000. That was an error in both priorities and basic judgement and it is important to correct those actions,” says Hirschfeld.
 
The School credits the determination of the survivors for significant changes that have benefited the community since that time. They include an early and sustained commitment to boundary training; a clear articulation of a faculty code of conduct; a commitment to reporting inappropriate behaviors to local authorities; and the creation of the Building Healthy Relationships Committee to inform and oversee School training initiatives.
 
 The School also recognizes its responsibility to promote a safe and welcoming environment for every member of its community. The letter notes that the School:
  • provides all members of the School community with robust and frequent boundary training to the end of strengthening a culture of mutual respect and accountability;
  • has zero tolerance for adults who use their power to harm or manipulate children in their care;
  • fulfills its reporting obligations to the Concord Police Department and all appropriate authorities;
  • upholds its moral reporting obligation to future employers of those who have crossed boundaries;
  • supports N.H. state legislation to eliminate the statute of limitations on the prosecution of adult perpetrators of sexual abuse on children; and
  • consults with the Building Healthy Relationships Committee as a resource for the development and oversight of healthy relationship programming.
 
Additionally, the letter states that the School seeks input from its community in helping it use the past to strengthen its future. “For alumni and the wider St. Paul’s School community, we have a unique opportunity to build on the courage of the victims and witnesses who came forward to promote healing and reconciliation to all members of the community who felt they were wronged while they were here. If you have ideas about how the School can advance healing and reconciliation, we invite you to contact us directly to share your thinking.”
 
Founded in 1856 and affiliated with the Episcopal Church, St. Paul’s School is a co-educational college preparatory high school in Concord, N.H. The 2,000-acre grounds are home to approximately 530 young men and women from 38 states and 21 countries. All students and the 110 full-time faculty members live on the grounds. The School is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and other nationally recognized agencies. In addition to its regular program for grades nine through twelve, St. Paul’s School also offers the Advanced Studies Program each summer for academically talented New Hampshire high school juniors. The SPS website is www.sps.edu
 
Further information can also be found in the “For the Media” section of our website. Additional correspondence from the Rector concerning abuse to the School community may be found in its “Community Wellness” section
 
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