The Boston Globe reports that St. Paul’s School (Episcopal) has entered an agreement to place the New Hampshire attorney general in charge of handling reports of child abuse on campus.
Under the terms, a compliance officer will be appointed to implement the agreement, which includes requirements for training, reporting possible cases of abuse to police, record keeping, and providing victim support services.
St. Paul’s will reimburse the state about $50,000 to cover the cost of the investigation and pay for all costs related to the agreement, including the compliance officer’s salary and benefits, MacDonald said. The officer will report to the attorney general’s office.
“We pursued a course of comprehensive reform with the objectives of achieving immediate and meaningful measures,” MacDonald said. “The agreement will assure a system of accountability, transparency, and oversight by this office and it will facilitate the protection of children to a far greater extent than a criminal proceeding would.”
The school has waived confidentiality in the grand jury proceedings, and a report on the findings will be issued at a later date, he said.
An agreement that places St. Paul’s School under government oversight is the first of its kind for an educational institution in New Hampshire and could serve as a model for other states responding to a history of sexual abuse and misconduct at prestigious prep schools, legal experts say.
Attorney General Gordon MacDonald announced Thursday the settlement agreement, which establishes the position of an independent monitor who will be tasked with ensuring that St. Paul’s is in compliance with the state’s mandatory report laws. The attorney general is forgoing prosecution of the Concord prep school on child endangerment charges following a 14-month-long criminal investigation in favor of what he called “comprehensive reform.”
Lawyers for sexual abuse victims and law enforcement officials who worked on the investigation said the settlement is the best possible outcome because it holds St. Paul’s accountable and could facilitate real cultural change, whereas a misdemeanor-level conviction would likely have a minimal lasting effect.
Earlier Episcopal Café coverage of sexual abuse at St. Paul’s School is archived here.
Image: Attorney General Gordon MacDonald via The Telegraph.