The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office is investigating claims that teachers at a prestigious prep school sexually assaulted students.
State police and the office of Attorney General Gordon MacDonald have launched a criminal investigation in response to a 2017 report detailing allegations of sexual assaults by teachers at St. Paul's School in Concord.
Investigators will be focusing initially on whether the school did anything to endanger children, according to the attorney general's office, which noted that any other potential crimes would be investigated "as dictated by the evidence."
"Protection of children is a paramount priority for law enforcement," MacDonald said in a statement. "I am confident that an institution such as St. Paul's School will be fully cooperative with this investigation."
"We have been in close contact with local law enforcement regarding recent incidents of concern, and we will continue to fully cooperate with any inquiries we receive," Mike Hirschfeld, the rector at St. Paul's School, said in a statement. "We also intend to work closely with the attorney general's office to answer any and all questions regarding the independent report issued last month. Our goal is and always will be the health, safety and well-being of our students. We will work tirelessly to meet that goal and strengthen the public's faith in St. Paul's School."
MacDonald's office is also investigating new allegations that students were taking part this year in a sexual conquest ritual reminiscent of the "senior salute," in which seniors tried to have sex with as many underclassmen as possible.
Students described the senior salute during the trial against Owen Labrie, who was acquitted of rape charges, but convicted of misdemeanor sex assault on a younger classmate.
"We commend the attorney general's office for taking action to investigate the potential mishandling of sexual misconduct at St. Paul's School," the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence said in a statement. "They are right to shine a light on the darkness that continues to surround this school. The administration's practice of hiring outside 'investigators' to determine whether to report suspected criminal activity to law enforcement points to a culture that places the school's reputation far above the health and safety of the children entrusted to its care. Elite boarding schools are in many ways exceptional, but they are not above the law."
Anyone with information is asked to contact the New Hampshire Department of Justice at (603) 271-1263 or email Mark.Myrdek@doj.nh.gov.