Former State Lawmaker Files Lawsuit Against Ex-Phillips Andover Teacher | NECN
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Former State Lawmaker Files Lawsuit Against Ex-Phillips Andover Teacher

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    A former state lawmaker has accused a former English teacher at a prestigious prep school of sexually abusing her.

    (Published Monday, April 24, 2017)

    A former New Hampshire state lawmaker is filing a federal lawsuit against a former teacher at a prestigious Massachusetts prep school more than three decades after she says she was sexually abused and that school leaders covered it up.

    The woman says the abuse happened at a teacher's house on campus about 35 years ago.

    She says when others came forward last year with similar allegations, she knew she had to build up the courage to tell her story, too.

    "Here I was, a student at the most prestigious high school in the country, and I left there barely able to function," explained former New Hampshire Rep. Marie Sapienza.

    In a press conference Monday, she told reporters her life came to a screeching halt when she was just 15 years old.

    “I was afraid to leave the house," Sapienza recalled. "I wouldn't eat food in restaurants."

    She says it was all because she had been sexually abused at Phillips Andover in 1982 by a teacher.

    "On one occasion, he called me and said, 'I want you to take my class, I will give you an A,'" Sapienza said.

    When she finally told the school's headmaster about it two years later, Sapienza says he refused to take action.

    "He basically said, 'it doesn't matter, I'm not going to do anything, he's not here anymore,'" Sapienza said.

    The teacher taught at the prestigious prep school until 1983. He was banned from campus after a 2016 investigation uncovered five cases of sexual misconduct between several different teachers and students in the 70s and 80s. That's what prompted Sapienza to come forward.

    "Sometimes, it takes a little encouragement to do something difficult," she said.

    The head of Phillips Andover issued a statement Monday saying, "Our hearts go out to all those who were harmed at our school and at all schools in the past. At Andover, we are committed to learning as much as we can about our school's past, offering support and acknowledgement for survivors of sexual misconduct, and ensuring the safety and security of all students on our campus today. The harms done to students in the past must never be repeated."

    Sapienza is suing the teacher for $20 million for permanent mental distress.

    Her attorney says the school is not named in the lawsuit because the statute of limitations has expired.

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