Police in New Hampshire say they've opened several separate investigations into alleged sexual misconduct and abuse by at least two current or former faculty members at an elite prep school.
Authorities say their ongoing investigation has resulted in more reports by alumni of Phillips Exeter Academy, and that they've added extra staff to investigate each claim. For the first time since
Some of the reports were only secondhand information or rumors, but there was enough to open separate investigations, according to police.
The development comes just days after the elite prep school grabbed headlines across New England, admitting publicly that former history teacher, Rick Schubart, was fired in 2011 for his involvement with two students back in the 1970s and 80s. Governor Maggie Hassan apologized for keeping the former teacher on her supporter list during her 2012 campaign.
Schubart has admitted to the sexual misconduct, but has never been criminally charged, because police say the statute of limitations has expired. Still, police announced Tuesday they were investigating reports of multiple allegations of misconduct and abuse the department had received from the school.
"On the civil standpoint, there are a few more options," explained New Hampshire Attorney Peter Hutchins.
He says outside the statute of limitations, these alleged victims could file civil suits against the school using what's called "the discovery rule."
"It's a three-year statute that doesn't start to run until the victim, the plaintiff, puts together the fact that they were injured and that the injury was caused by some wrongful conduct of some defendant," Hutchins said.
Hutchins successfully used this rule back in the early two 2000s when he represented dozens of victims in the church abuse scandal. He says there's a chance Phillips Exeter could be held accountable for failing to protect its students.
"Particularly in the school context, it's called 'breach of fiduciary duty,' if a child is in a school, the school holds a higher duty because the kid is basically stuck there, the school has taken the place of the parent," Hutchins explained.
Phillips Exeter spokesperson Robin Giampa wouldn't comment on the specific allegations, but did say in an email to necn, "We are grateful to Chief Shupe and the Exeter Police Department for their partnership throughout this process and we are committed to fully cooperating with their investigation."
Victims or others who may have information about sexual misconduct or abuse at the school is asked to contact Exeter Police Detective Sgt. Michael Munck directly at 603-773-6144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.