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St. Paul’s School reports a history of staff sexual abuse of students

St. Paul’s School reports a history of staff sexual abuse of students

St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Concord, N.H. issued a report of a history of staff sexual abuse of students. The report was prompted when the Episcopal Café and others discovered the Rev. Howard White (now deposed) once served as chaplain at the school while still canonically resident in West Virginia. The 73 page report is here (PDF). The school’s press release is here.

Boston Globe:

According to a summary of the report:

— Another 10 former faculty and staff were accused of engaging in sexual misconduct, but the misconduct was isolated, or the victims couldn’t be located, or they were unwilling to be interviewed, or they denied anything happened, or a combination of those factors.

— A further cluster of 11 current and former faculty and staff members were accused, but there was an “insufficient amount of information” to support any sexual misconduct findings.

Administrators “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.” the statement said.

Concerning White in particular,

White was chaplain and teacher of sacred studies at St. Paul’s. White pleaded guilty in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston last week to molesting a student during trips to Boston in 1973 while working at St. George’s School.

The new report found White sexually abused a student for an “extended period of time” when the student was 15 years old. The attack on the teenaged student was referred to Concord police in 2016, the school said.

There’s no evidence White faced allegations or suspicions while at St. Paul’s. But he left a trail of victims over many dioceses.

There is much more detail on the St. Paul’s report in the Boston Globe article.

More from the AP:

St. Paul’s School released a report Monday detailing allegations against a dozen men and one woman who worked at the school between 1947 and 1999. The list includes former teachers, chaplains, a counselor and an admissions officer accused of a range of misconduct.

A few were fired, but most were quietly “moved on” with letters of recommendations for their next jobs, according to the Boston law firm Casner & Edwards.

“Put simply but starkly, several former faculty and staff sexually abused children in their care in a variety of ways, from clear boundary violations to repeated sexual relationships to rape,” the report says. It says the impact on the students, the tolerance by those who knew and the lack of awareness by most of the faculty and leadership “is all equally troubling.”

The Concord Monitor describes other aspects of the  report, including a 2000 study done to protect the school’s reputation rather than reveal the truth:

Seventeen years ago, a group of St. Paul’s School graduates from the class of 1975 got together after a reunion and submitted narratives to the school of their teachers’ sexual misconduct in the 1970s.

The administration tapped a partial attorney to investigate – not on behalf of the victims or the truth, according to the report, but mainly to protect the elite school’s reputation, assess risks of liability and determine if any current faculty members posed a risk to students. The lead attorney, Robert Gordon of the Boston-based law firm Ropes & Gray, who had an existing relationship with the school, chose to ignore allegations against deceased faculty members, eliminating three of the six cases under investigation.

In the other three cases, one person died, one was fired but given a lifetime annuity, and a third continued to receive his “remaining payout under a voluntary separation incentive,” against Gordon’s recommendation, according to the report. The men who weren’t investigated in 2000 had accusations against them substantiated in the report released Monday.

The Right Reverend Dr. Craig Barry Anderson was head of school at the time of the 2000 study. Anderson resigned under pressure in May 2005 due to allegations, later settled, of financial misappropriation. Before coming to St. Paul’s, Anderson was dean of General Seminary where he his spending was also questioned. Concerning Anderson the 2017 report states:

Based on our review of the Ropes & Gray files, we concluded that: (a) contrary to the express statement of Reverend Anderson to the Form of 1975 group that the investigation would be “far ranging and the chips will have to fall where they may,” the scope of the 2000 investigation, from the outset, as far as SPS and their counsel were concerned, was intended to assess risks of liability, to determine if any living faculty member posed a safety risk to others, and to preserve the reputation of SPS and any deceased former faculty member who was unable to defend himself; (b) several former faculty members and staff alleged by the Form of 1975 group to have committed sexual misconduct were not investigated because they were deceased or believed to be deceased; (c) the specific findings and conclusions of the 2000 investigation appear to have been reported only to the Rector, Vice Rector, and the Executive Committee of the SPS Board of Trustees; and (d) the members of the Form of 1975, and other alumni/ae who requested information about and/or participated in the investigation, were highly dissatisfied with the manner in which the findings and conclusions of the investigation were communicated, if at all, to them or to the wider SPS community.

Anderson was interviewed for 2017 report but only provided vague recollections. Second in command at the time of the 2000 study, Dr. Sharon D. Hennessy declined to be interviewed. Anderson says he delegated detail of the 2000 study to Hennessy. Hennessy is now superintendent of Taipei American School, From the report:

On September 25, 2000, Mr. Gordon wrote to then Vice Rector Dr. Hennessy that in his view SPS had “no alternative under law but to undertake an immediate investigation of the matter…with the paramount goal being to get to the truth.”

Anderson is retired.

In 2006 Vanity Fair published an article on sexual abuse at the school.

Alumni of St. Paul’s include Frank Griswold, William Randolph Hearst, John Kerry, John Lindsay, Robert Mueller, Garry Trudeau, Cornelius Vanderbilt III and Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

Archibald Cox Jr. is president of the Board of Trustees.

The head of school is Michael Hirshfeld, brother of the Diocese of New Hampshire.


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Marshall Scott

Notwithstanding that this has actually been linked with one man in several institutions, in our headlines could we identify the location? We have a number of schools honoring St. Paul across the church, and clarity up front might help some readers.

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