St. Paul’s School is now required to report any allegations of sexual assault to the Concord Police Department, according to an updated agreement between the college prep school and local police.
The memo of understanding, which was officially signed in January but first reported this week in the Concord Monitor, was the product of months of conversations between St. Paul’s and Concord police officials.
The prestigious college prep school has been grappling with decades of allegations of sexual assault and misconduct involving students, faculty and staff. In the past, Lt. Sean Ford said Concord police were often late to or not even notified of a sexual assault allegation involving St. Paul’s students or faculty.
But he said the current prep school administration is taking things much more seriously.
“In recent history they’ve been much more in front of things, contacting us with more urgency and...almost as soon as they find out,” Ford said.
Ford said the previous memo of understanding was “adequate” but he’s felt for years the agreement likely needed an upgrade. He said the new agreement will allow for more transparency and gives both the school and police “more latitude to work cooperatively.”
St. Paul’s is now required to immediately report sexual assault allegations to police, as well as secure any location or evidence that could be helpful in an investigation.
The school also has to hold off on any internal investigation until Concord police complete their work.
In a statement, Rector Michael Hirschfeld said St. Paul’s takes its reporting obligations very seriously and the agreement “reconfirms that approach.”
“Ensuring the health and safety of our entire St. Paul’s community is our number one priority,” he said.
St. Paul’s recently partnered with the Crisis Center of Central New Hampshire and UNH to implement campus-wide education and training programs around consent and sexual violence.
Last year, the school released an independent report that documented decades of allegations of sexual assaults by St. Paul’s teachers on students.
The two-part report was released just a few years after the highly publicized arrest, trial and sexual assault conviction of St. Paul’s student Owen Labrie. The trial also highlighted on-campus sex rituals between students.
Last July, the state Attorney General’s office launched a criminal investigation into whether St. Paul’s School engaged in conduct “constituting endangering the welfare of a child.”