A New Hampshire lawmaker who was the victim of sexual assault is calling on the state to investigate claims of widespread sexual misconduct at Phillips Exeter Academy, the tony boarding school once headed by Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan’s husband.
State Rep. Katherine Prudhomme O’Brien (R.) sent a letter to the state Department of Justice requesting an investigation into the boarding school’s handling of complaints of sexual misconduct perpetrated by several teachers over several decades.
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"Multiple reports of sexual abuse and misconduct at Phillips Exeter Academy have raised several questions about transparency, accountability, and safety at the school," she said. "As a survivor of sexual assault, I respectfully request that your office immediately begin an investigation into the Phillips Exeter administration’s handling of these sexual assault cases."
Phillips Exeter Academy has been rocked by multiple accusations of sexual misconduct after the Boston Globe’s Spotlight department revealed that the school failed to disclose longtime teacher Rick Schubart’s admission of sexual misconduct over the course of his four decade career.
Schubart admitted to principal Tom Hassan, husband of Democratic governor and 2016 Senate candidate Maggie Hassan, that he had committed sexual misconduct in 2011. Hassan’s administration forced him to retire but allowed him to retain emeritus status until 2015, when a second accuser came forward.
"In 2011 school officials falsely claimed that Schubart was retiring for ‘personal and medical reasons,’ rather than disclosing the true nature of his departure, thereby putting the school community and student body at risk," O’Brien said.
In 2013 Hassan informed alumni in a letter that a dead faculty member was guilty of sexual misconduct with a student. That letter failed to mention Schubart, who served on Gov. Hassan’s campaign steering after he was barred from campus.
Gov. Hassan has denied any knowledge of Schubart's guilt and apologized for not properly vetting him. Her office said that the matter should be left to law enforcement.
"The Governor's heart continues to go out to the victims and to the entire Phillips Exeter Academy community, and she continues to believe any allegations must be thoroughly investigated by law enforcement and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," her spokesman said in a statement sent to reporters. "Law enforcement and prosecutors determine whether to launch investigations based on the facts of any case, and those decisions are made independently."
Neither Tom Hassan, nor Phillips Exeter Academy returned Washington Free Beacon request for comment. Schubart has not returned calls for weeks.
O’Brien’s letter, which was signed by 18 other lawmakers, said that Hassan’s handling of the scandal gives every indication of a cover-up.
"The school’s website indicates that Principal Hassan did send a letter to the PEA community regarding allegations of misconduct by another teacher, even though that teacher had not been employed by the school since 1967, had been alleged to have committed misconduct at a different school, and had been dead for six years," O’Brien said. "The aforementioned facts strongly suggest that Professor Schubart not only received special treatment from school administrators, but that his sexual misconduct may have been deliberately covered-up."
The scandal has led to further claims of sexual misconduct at the school, which parents pay $38,000 to nearly $50,000 per year for their children to attend. The local police department has fielded three other complaints since the accusations against Schubart came to light. One other teacher has been fired.