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Series of sex abuse scandals result in self-examination by exclusive boarding schools

Series of sex abuse scandals result in self-examination by exclusive boarding schools

A series of scandals at exclusive boarding schools — St. George’s Episcopal in Rhode Island, St. Paul’s Episcopal in New Hampshire, and Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire — have pushed these schools and others to adopt new safeguards.

The Boston Globe reports the Association of Boarding Schools has censured for the former Exeter principal:

An international association of boarding schools has censured the former principal of Phillips Exeter Academy for failing to disclose that a prominent teacher had admitted to sexual misconduct before the association gave him an award in 2012.

The censure of former principal Tom Hassan, husband of New Hampshire’s governor, is part of the growing fallout from revelations this week that popular Phillips Exeter faculty member Rick Schubart had admitted to sexual misconduct with two students. But Hassan, who stepped down in 2015, did not disclose Schubart’s conduct publicly or to The Association of Boarding Schools, which gave Schubart a leadership award in 2012.

“We learned on Wednesday for the first time about Rick Schubart’s reported misconduct, his forced retirement from Exeter in 2011, and the additional disciplinary measures the school imposed in 2015,’’ said a letter from board chairwoman Susan A. Nelson and executive director Peter W. Upham. “The revelations this week have been deeply disappointing, personally and professionally.’’

And Michelle R. Smith of the AP writes:

 “Absolutely, there is a period of intense self-examination happening,” said Pete Upham, executive director of the Association of Boarding Schools, an organization of 280 college prep schools, mostly in the U.S. and Canada.

And the Association of Boarding Schools announced last week that it is forming an expert task force to develop training and practices for preventing sexual misconduct. Upham said many boarding schools across the U.S. have actually been working for years to address the problem, especially after the Penn State furor.

The Pomfret School in Connecticut said it, too, is reviewing its policies and campus culture and has hired an investigator to receive reports of wrongdoing. Pomfret’s headmaster was formerly an administrator at St. George’s and has acknowledged not reporting some of the alleged abuse there to authorities when it came to light more than a decade ago.

That former administrator at St. George’s is Timothy Richardson, now Head of School at Pomfret. The Boston Globe in January reported:

Three boys came to administrators at the prestigious Rhode Island prep school St. George’s in 2004 with disturbing allegations: their dorm master had touched them inappropriately. Timothy Richards, then dean of students at the Episcopal school [at St. George’s], said he and the headmaster, Eric Peterson, interviewed the students.

The accused staffer left the school abruptly, and students were told he had taken a personal leave of absence. But a former school official says the school never reported the allegations to child welfare officials, as is required for credible accusations of abuse.

Instead, the headmaster concluded that the employee “did not engage in sexual misconduct” and allowed him to return to work the next school year. Richards, now headmaster at another private school, said Peterson told him that “outside counsel” had advised him that reporting the matter to authorities was not warranted.

Emphasis added.

See also: About those headmasters at St. George’s

Photo: Student body, Phillips Exeter Academy, ca. 1903 by E. Chickering & Co.


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Helen Kromm

I’m not sure I understand. At least I don’t understand as far as this goes at the Pomfret School. It’s clear that the current Headmaster should be fired. Why is he still there, and why does he hold a position of authority in any school.

In 2004, he was aware of accusations of child abuse presented by at least three students. He failed to report those accusations to law enforcement. It doesn’t matter what the headmaster said. He committed a crime. That crime may not be prosecuted now due to the statute of limitations, but it is and was a criminal offense.

So he remains at Pomfret, and they are conducting an investigation. Investigation or not, he has no business leading that school as the Headmaster.

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