Ex-St. Paul’s teacher gets 4 months in jail for conspiring with former student to lie under oath

  • David Pook, 48, of Warner, New Hampshire enters the Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord, New Hampshire to hear his sentence after his guilty plea on Friday, August 17, 2018. Pook will serve four months in the county jail for his sentence. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Former St. Paul’€™s and Derryfield School teacher David Pook, 48, of Warner is handcuffed by Merrimack County Sheriffs after his sentence hearing in Concord on Friday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • David Pook enters the Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord on Friday.

  • Former St. Paul’€™s School teacher David Pook, 48, of Warner, New Hampshire who conspired with a former student to lie to a grand jury about their relationship left a Concord, New Hampshire courtroom in handcuffs Friday, August 17, 2018 after pleading guilty to lesser charges.Pook will spend four months in county jail on misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit false swearing and criminal contempt of court. As part of a plea agreement, all felony charges were dismissed. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 8/17/2018 5:57:29 PM

An ex-St. Paul’s School teacher who conspired with a former student to lie to a grand jury about their relationship left a Concord courtroom in handcuffs Friday after pleading guilty to lesser charges.

David Pook, 48, of Warner will spend four months in county jail on misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit false swearing and criminal contempt of court. As part of a plea agreement, all felony charges were dismissed.

Pook was arrested by the state attorney general’s office in February as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the Concord prep school’s handling of sexual misconduct and assault allegations over several decades. Deputy Attorney General Jane Young said Friday that the broader investigation was negatively affected as prosecutors turned their attention to Pook, who schemed with a former student, Stephanie O’Connell, to lie under oath.

“The state is investigating St. Paul’s School for actions of students. The conduct of this defendant and the co-conspirator sidetracked this investigation for months because of their concerted effort to lie,” Young said.

As a condition of his 120-day sentence, Pook is prohibited from holding another teaching job in New Hampshire.

Pook taught at St. Paul’s from 2000 to 2008 before he left under what authorities said were “questionable circumstances,” and yet was recommended for employment at Derryfield School, a private day school in Manchester. While St. Paul’s maintains Pook was let go following “a boundary violation with a student,” investigators say Pook and O’Connell had a sexual relationship that began years ago and continued as recently as his arrest.

State prosecutors maintain the contents of emails exchanged between Pook and O’Connell between February 2008 and October 2008 show an emerging relationship that led to Pook’s quiet termination from St. Paul’s. Some of those emails were included in the state’s sealed motion to disclose records to Derryfield School, whose administrators did not know why Pook was dismissed from St. Paul’s. Those records were subject to a protective order, but investigators said Pook shared them with O’Connell anyway.

“Specifically, your honor, you mandated that the defendant is prohibited from copying, publishing, transmitting, uploading, or duplicating the records in any manner,” Young said. “But a half-hour after this man, with a PhD, was served that in-hand, at 4:30, he contacted Stephanie O’Connell.”

O’Connell testified before the grand jury for several hours on Dec. 6. She denied under oath having had any sexual contact with Pook as a student or at any time since then. Further, she said her most recent contact with Pook had been in summer 2017.

Cellphone records, however, show multiple calls between Pook and O’Connell in October, November and December.

The attorney general’s office said Pook was called before the grand jury on Dec. 7, but “he did not provide any substantive testimony.”

In court Friday, Pook pleaded guilty to violating a court order and to telling O’Connell to lie under oath, but remained adamant that allegations of a sexual relationship are unfounded.

His attorney, Mark Sisti, said Pook never had any sexual contact with students at St. Paul’s or Derryfield.

When given the opportunity to address the court, Pook declined.

Pook was fired from Derryfield School after his arrest in February and prohibited from being on its Manchester campus.

President of St. Paul’s Board of Trustees Archibald Cox apologized to Derryfield School in March for the actions of former Rector Bill Matthews who gave Pook a “favorable recommendation.” Cox also called Pook’s departure from St. Paul’s “overdue and badly handled.”

Pook is the only person so far to face criminal charges stemming from the attorney general’s investigation of St. Paul’s, which launched in summer 2017. Prosecutors are examining whether the school endangered the welfare of children or broke a law that prohibits the obstruction of criminal investigations.

The scope of their inquiry includes two reports released last year by St. Paul’s on faculty abuse of students spanning decades. Top prosecutors also said they would be looking into more recent reports, including sexual conquest games such as the “Senior Salute.” The game took center stage at the 2015 sexual assault trial of St. Paul’s graduate Owen Labrie, who was convicted of using the internet to lure an underclassman for sex.

(Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 369-3319, adandrea@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @_ADandrea.)


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