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St. Paul’s School graduate accuses former school chaplain of sex abuse

  • File Photo: The entrance to the elite St. Paul’s School is seen Friday Aug. 14, 2015 in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) Jim Cole

Monitor staff
Published: 8/10/2016 4:20:03 PM

A graduate of St. Paul’s School in Concord recently accused a former school chaplain of sexual abuse dating back several decades.

St. Paul’s contacted the Concord Police Department on Thursday about the allegations involving the Rev. Howard “Howdy” White, who worked in the private school’s Sacred Studies Department from fall 1967 to spring 1971.

The sexual abuse allegations are not the first to surface against White. He was fired from St. George’s School, an Episcopal school in Middletown, R.I., in 1974 for admitted sexual misconduct, which was not reported to law enforcement at the time, the Providence Journal reported.

News that St. George’s had hired a private investigator this past January to look into decades-old allegations of sexual abuse raised concern among St. Paul’s administrators, the school’s rector, Michael Hirschfeld, wrote in a letter to alumni Friday. The Rhode Island investigation prompted St. Paul’s to retain its own lawyer, former Massachusetts attorney general Scott Harshbarger, to investigate any misconduct by White during his time in Concord.

Initially, the school found no evidence. But through its internal investigation, one accuser came forward, the school said.

St. Paul’s said in a statement Tuesday that it is concerned for the welfare of all of its past and present students.

“Student safety is our highest priority,” the school said. “The school has actively encouraged its alumni to come forward with any concerns concerning Rev. Howard White.”

The school referred all questions to local law enforcement.

Concord police Lt. Tim O’Malley confirmed the department opened an investigation into alleged sexual abuse Aug. 4. But because the case is pending, he could not confirm whether White is the focus of that investigation.

White became assistant chaplain at St. George’s School after leaving St. Paul’s in early 1971. He was one of several former staff members who Rhode Island state police investigated as part of a sexual abuse scandal in that community.

Victims’ lawyers said they are aware of reports of rape, fondling or other abuse involving more than 50 victims, with some cases just a few years old, the Associated Press reported.

St. George’s School said White abused at least three students. He and others were never criminally charged, in part due to the statute of limitations.

In New Hampshire, the statute of limitations gives prosecutors 22 years from the child’s 18th birthday to file sexual assault charges. This gives young victims the chance to come forward well into their adulthood.

That time frame, however, would not apply in this case because the alleged abuse dates back too many years. Older versions of the law gave victims even less time to report instances of abuse to the authorities.

Elite boarding schools throughout New England have faced questions about sexual misconduct on campuses.

At St. Paul’s, the sexual assault trial of 2014 graduate Owen Labrie revealed a tradition in which senior boys compete to have sex with younger girls. That notion of “senior salute” brought the Labrie case and the school national attention.

And at Phillips Exeter Academy, several graduates have come forward, accusing faculty members of sexual abuse and other inappropriate behavior.

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