Support the Café

Search our Site

St. Paul’s Episcopal School sued, again, by victims of sexual predation

St. Paul’s Episcopal School sued, again, by victims of sexual predation

Two former students of St. Paul’s Episcopal School (New Hampshire) have sued the school for its failure to protect them from sexual predators.

The New York Times:

The suit, filed on behalf of two alumni of St. Paul’s and one of their wives, accused Gerry E. Studds, a former United States representative from Massachusetts who had taught at the school, of inappropriate conduct. Mr. Studds died in 2006. … Mr. Studds was not named in the earlier reports released by the school.

The lawsuit described an alleged incident in the late 1960s involving one of the plaintiffs, Keith Mithoefer, when he was a student enrolled at the school and Mr. Studds was a teacher. …

The lawsuit also claimed that Mr. Mithoefer experienced inappropriate conversations or touching by three other faculty members at St. Paul’s. It also said a member of the administration was aware of at least some of misconduct, and suggested that Mr. Mithoefer could only receive his diploma if he kept quiet.

Another plaintiff, George Chester Irons, said that in 1973 or 1974 he and other students were taken to New York City by Coolidge Mead Chapin, an administrator at the school, who ordered them to have sex with prostitutes as he yelled commands. Mr. Chapin was identified last year in the school’s report.

The Boston Globe:

Studds, the first member of Congress to openly say he was gay, was a teacher at St. Paul’s from 1965 to 1969. He later spent 24 years in the US House of Representatives, where he represented the 10th Congressional District covering New Bedford, the South Shore, and Cape Cod.

The House censured Studds in 1983 for sexual misconduct after a former congressional page said he and the congressman had a sexual relationship a decade earlier, when the page was 17. Studds died in 2006 at age 69. His husband couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

Concord Monitor:

“This was an atmosphere of predators and pedophiles,” Mithoefer told the Monitor. “I thought that might have changed, but recent cases tell us otherwise.”

Irons, who graduated in 1976, is a former president of the school’s alumni association and previously served on the board of trustees. …

Irons and Mithoefer have brought 10 civil claims against St. Paul’s including negligent hiring; retention and supervision of faculty/staff; negligent infliction of emotional distress; and vicarious liability. Additionally, Irons’s wife, Barbara Irons, alleges in the lawsuit that as a result of the harm caused to her husband, she suffered loss of his “aid, assistance, comfort, society, companionship, affection, and conjugal relation.”

St. Paul’s had long known of the sexual abuse of students in the care of their teachers and advisers and yet chose to remain silent for decades, further augmenting the psychological harm that alumni like Irons and Mithoefer suffered, the lawsuit says.

The school has issued a statement and apology. It says, in part,

We are truly sorry for the pain they experienced and for any failure of the School to protect them.

Their allegations of faculty wrongdoing are deeply troubling. The idea that the administration knew of and covered up the wrongdoing is disgraceful.

The complaint is here (PDF).

Photo: Gerry Studds


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
David Allen

If the students involved in the reported abuse were not prepubescent children, then this has nothing to do with pedophilia. It would be nice should the litigants in these cases understood the distinction.

Good job John, you have been reporting on this story for a number of years now!

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café