Headline: “Victims say power structure at St. Paul’s fostered decades of sexual abuse”

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Following on the heels of allegations of recent sexual abuse of students by fellow students at a New Hampshire Episcopal School comes new information about decades long mishandling of student sexual abuse by adults at the school.

The Concord Monitor has two articles based on interviews with former students.

Victims say power structure at St. Paul’s fostered decades of sexual abuse

Going against the power structure was never an option at St. Paul’s School, where everyone from faculty members – known as masters – on down to first-year students understood their social standing.

Good students never questioned authority because they knew their success depended on a strict compliance with and respect for an institution, which had graduated some of the most prominent financial and political leaders in the nation. The rules were clear to several former St. Paul’s students who were sexually assaulted during their time on campus, they said.

“You don’t have a school that makes you refer to teachers as masters that isn’t very much aware of its own power structure. There was no question these people had our futures in their hands. If you were a good boy, you went to Yale or Harvard. Otherwise, you could face a great detriment,” said alumnus Biff Mithoefer, who attended St. Paul’s in the late 1960s.

While the educational experience was altogether positive, Mithoefer said dark secrets lurked in the school’s residential buildings, where students were groomed and subjected to horrific abuses by faculty members entrusted with their care.

Survivor sheds decades of silence

Udaloy was one of the first girls to attend St. Paul’s. She was 14 years old when her parents enrolled her in the elite prep school in 1972, a year after St. Paul’s began accepting girls full-time. …

For Udaloy, life at St. Paul’s was altogether positive in her first two years at the institution. However, it’s near impossible for her to see those initial experiences with much clarity today. The sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of Edward Lawrence “Larry” Katzenbach III during her senior year is what she remembers most about St. Paul’s.

Udaloy and other victims had found their voice after years of silence. However, St. Paul’s leaders weren’t interested in taking any action that could harm the school’s reputation, especially in cases where the accused were no longer employed, she said. “The company line at the time was ‘this is all ancient history,’ and ‘nothing like that could be happening now,’ ” Udaloy said in a recent interview. “The response from the school in the 2000 to 2002 time frame was every bit as abusive as the original attacks on the students.”

Without any recourse, victims’ statements of abuse by faculty were filed away for another 16 years. An investigation was conducted by the law firm of Ropes & Gray, but alumni who brought the matter to the school’s attention said they never saw any reports, findings or conclusions from that probe. Allegations at that time were not properly investigated, and while one notable teacher was removed from the school, St. Paul’s never said why, a 2017 report shows. Present-day administrators have since acknowledged that St. Paul’s failed to protect its former students from sexual abuse by adults entrusted with their care.

Two months ago the school issued a 73-page report of staff sexual abuse of students.

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Michael W. Murphy
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Michael W. Murphy

I am reminded of C.S. Lewis' writing about his time in a British boarding school (I do not remember which of his books) in which sex abuse was part of the culture.

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David Allen
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David Allen

The red text are links to the original articles. (Blue if reading on a cellphone.)

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Beryl Simkins
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Beryl Simkins

This is so disheartening. I would like to think that our church would not be involved in such problems as this It is such a betrayal of trust.

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Annette Chappell
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Annette Chappell

Rather than disjointed extracts from the newspaper article, why not just provide the link?

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