St. Paul's School holds forums on sex abuse report
CONCORD (AP) — During graduation and alumni reunions, an elite New Hampshire prep school is holding forums for current and former students to discuss a recently released report on sexual misconduct allegations at the school decades ago.
St. Paul's School released a report last month detailing allegations against a dozen men and one woman who worked at the school between 1947 and 1999. The report also found evidence that the school failed to either protect students at the time or investigate their complaints when asked 17 years ago.
The school hosted a forum Friday and another one was taking place Saturday afternoon. The goal was to give alumni and students a chance to have their voices heard, Alumni Association Executive Director Alisa Barnard told New Hampshire Public Radio.
"It's not meant to be an opportunity for us to do anything more than listen," she said. "So we're hoping that it just is providing an open space for people to talk with one another."
Barnard said she also hoped the forums would generate discussions among different age groups.
"When people come back for reunions, they tend to group together with their classes, their forms, and this was an opportunity to bring people together across the generations to process in their different ways how they're reacting to the report. It's really a first step toward starting to heal," she said.
St. Paul's requested the investigation last year after learning that a former chaplain and teacher had been fired from St. George's School in Rhode Island for sexual misconduct in 1974. Howard White, a former Episcopal priest, pleaded guilty last month to sexually assaulting a student during trips to Boston in 1973 while working at St. George's School and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
White, a chaplain and teacher of sacred studies at St. Paul's, is accused of repeatedly raping a 15-year-old boy who accompanied him on a six-week long summer trip. Attorney David Duncan, who represented him in the Boston case, has declined to comment.
In 2015, recent graduate Owen Labrie was convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault and other charges involving a female freshman. Prosecutors say he assaulted the girl as part of game of sexual conquest. The school has denied it could have prevented the assault, but it has since taken steps to "prevent and reduce risky adolescent behavior."