New Hampshire Democrat Maggie Hassan appointed a teacher her husband had forced to resign over sexual misconduct with a student to the leadership committee for her 2012 gubernatorial campaign.
Tom Hassan forced longtime history teacher Rick Schubart to retire from Phillips Exeter Academy in 2011 after Schubart admitted to having an affair with a student in the 1970s.
Recent Stories in Issues
Hassan allowed Schubart to retain emeritus status and the academy continued to list him on its curriculum until a second former student came forward with similar allegations of sexual misconduct in 2015. The school barred him from campus but did not notify parents, alumni, or teachers of Schubart’s actions until it was contacted by the Boston Globe in March of this year.
Tom Hassan apologized for his handling of the scandal. His successor, Principal Lisa MacFarlene, called the school’s handling of Schubart’s resignation "insufficient."
Despite her husband’s knowledge of Schubart’s sexual misconduct, Hassan named the teacher and his wife, Caren, to leadership committees for her first gubernatorial run in 2012.
Caren Schubart served on the Women for Maggie Steering Committee, which was formed in July 2012, several months after Schubart was forced into early retirement. The Hassan campaign listed Rick Schubart as a supporter in October 2011 and named him to her Rockingham County Steering Committee in March 2012.
The campaign did not remove him from the position after the first allegation was reported in November 2011.
Hassan, who is the governor of New Hampshire, told WMUR that she was surprised about Schubart’s sudden departure from campus, but maintained that her husband failed to disclose the reason for his retirement.
"While I sensed something was wrong because of the teacher’s abrupt departure and abrupt retirement, I didn’t know, and I didn’t have information that I could pass on that would have allowed us to remove him," Hassan said on Friday.
Hassan walked silently past several protesters holding signs saying, "What is Maggie Hiding?" as she entered a Monday evening fundraiser with Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D., Wisc.) and News Corp executive Toni Bush in Washington, D.C.
She also ignored questions from the Washington Free Beacon about whether she was disappointed that her husband failed to inform her of the allegations as she left Boss Shepherds Restaurant following the event.
Tom Hassan has come under fire for his silence about Schubart’s admitted misconduct.
The Association of Boarding Schools awarded Schubart for his contributions to education in 2012. Tom Hassan was not involved in the nomination; however, he failed to warn the association of the scandal when he joined its board.
Schubart accepted the award five months after Hassan’s appointment to the association’s board. The association voted to strip Schubart of the award and censure Hassan on Thursday.
"The TABS board met and unanimously approved the following resolution. … To issue a letter of censure to Thomas Hassan, former member of the TABS Board, for failing to appropriately advise the association, in its best interests, of concerns regarding the fitness of Rick Schubart to receive the 2012 Ruzicka Award," the association said in an email to members.
Tom Hassan, who did not return a request for comment, has maintained that the school kept quiet about the scandal in 2011 to protect the privacy of the victim, who was 18 at the time of the affair. He has since apologized for his handling of the situation and accepted his censure.
"We were attempting to balance the privacy and wishes of the victim with the utmost need to ensure the safety of members of the community, and it’s clear in retrospect that we didn’t get that balance right," Hassan said in a statement to WMUR. "We should have taken additional action to ensure transparency and accountability at that time, and I join Phillips Exeter Academy in apologizing for an inadequate response and I accept the decision of The Association of Boarding Schools board.
The Hassan and Schubart families have known each other for decades.
Prior to Tom’s elevation to principal in 2009, the Hassans lived in faculty housing located 300 feet from the Schubart household, according to property records. The Hassans lived at 48 Court Street from 2002 to 2010, a one-minute walk to 65 Court Street, where the Schubarts lived from 1989 until his removal from campus.
A 2010 photo shows then-state Sen. Maggie Hassan onstage with Schubart.
Hassan’s opponent in the upcoming Senate race, incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R.), declined to comment on the role the Schubarts played in Hassan’s campaign and directed the Washington Free Beacon to a statement about the "important questions" raised by the scandal.
"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," Ayotte said in a statement. "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."
The Hassan campaign has pledged to donate past contributions from the Schubarts to a nonprofit dealing with victims of sexual abuse.
Tom Hassan has remained out of the public eye since the scandal broke on Wednesday. He was scheduled to drop the puck at a charity hockey game between New Hampshire firefighters and policemen, but skipped the event, telling the New Hampshire Union Leader that "something came up."
Schubart did not answer the phone when the Washington Free Beacon attempted to reach him on Monday. His voicemail box was full.
Update: This post has been updated to clarify when Rick Schubart was named to the Rockingham County Steering Committee.