Apr 1, 2016 4:05 PM
CONCORD - Gov. Maggie Hassan’s campaign insists she did not know about sexual misconduct by a former teacher when she listed him as a supporter and took cash from him during the 2012 campaign.
Hassan’s husband, Tom, was principal of Phillips Exeter Academy in 2011 when Rick Schubart, a longtime history teacher, admitted to sexual misconduct with two students in the 1970s and 1980s
But a spokesman for Hassan’s US Senate campaign says she didn’t know about the incident when Schubart was a Rockingham County supporter and the couple had given Hassan $375 to her first run for governor and State Senate campaigns.
"While the governor didn’t know the specific details – as both she and Tom strive to maintain the confidentiality of their respective jobs – she sensed that the teacher had done something wrong when he abruptly retired and left campus,’’ said Aaron Jacobs, communications director for Hassan’s Senate campaign.
Schubart was forced to retire and leave campus housing. Hassan’s campaign listed him as a backer before and after he left campus.
In a statement, Hassan praised the two women who came forward to make the allegations against Schubart.
"My heart goes out to these two brave victims and to the entire Phillips Exeter Academy community during this difficult time. While the school immediately reported to the authorities and worked closely with the victims to protect their privacy, the school is appropriately re-evaluating what the proper balance should be,’’ Governor Hassan said.
"This reinforces why every school must have clear guidelines for reporting and addressing sexual misconduct and must continually re-evaluate those guidelines. Everyone must continue working together to strengthen protections for our most vulnerable and to keep students and children everywhere safe from harm.’’
Hassan’s potential fall opponent, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, issued a statement raising questions about how Phillips Exeter Academy responded to the sex misconduct matter while Hassan’s husband, Tom, was principal.
"As a former prosecutor who has worked with victims of sexual abuse, I believe it’s so important that we provide support for those who come forward and have been victimized. Important questions have been raised about whether these accusations were handled properly that must be fully addressed to ensure the safety and well-being of students,’’ Ayotte said.
Tom Hassan had written in 2011 a letter to the academy community in the wake of sexual misconduct on college campuses urging anyone with past allegations to come forward.
Schubart was removed from the campus by the time Hassan’s 2012 campaign listed Schubart as a member of her Rockingham County Steering Committee.
Schubart’s family also gave Hassan’s campaign for governor $75 in 2012 and 2013 after he had retired from his nearly 40-year career.
"As the school continued to work closely with the victim to protect her privacy, the information was confidential, so neither the governor nor her staff knew enough to remove him from any supporter or fundraising lists,” said Jacobs, Hassan’s Senate campaign spokesman.
Tom Hassan remains on sabbatical from the school.
The Boston Globe reported this week the school did not publicly disclose Schubart’s misconduct until the day after the newspaper first inquired about the cases because one of Schubart’s victims went to the newspaper.
Tom Hassan’s replacement as principal, Lisa MacFarlane, then wrote a letter to alumni that the response of the school back in 2011 was "insufficient.’’
"When we learned of the first incident, we immediately reported it to authorities,” the Exeter Police Department and the state Division of Children, Youth and Families, “and took steps to remove Mr. Schubart from the community. In retrospect, those steps were insufficient,’’ MacFarlane wrote in her letter.
The Republican State Committee and America Rising PAC - a Super PAC opposing Hassan’s Senate bid, did not respond to NH1 News's requests for comment on the controversy.
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