Kuster Discusses Sexual Assault in Wake of Phillips Exeter Allegations

Jul 20, 2016

New Hampshire Congresswoman Ann Kuster was in Concord Tuesday to talk about sexual assault and how colleges and universities can prevent such incidents in the future. 

The discussion comes in the wake of news of investigations into Philips Exeter Academy's handling of sexual assault allegations as well as last summer's sexual assault conviction at another New Hampshire prep school - St. Paul's School in Concord.

At a roundtable discussion at UNH School of Law, officials from nearly every New Hampshire college gathered to brainstorm how to better prevent and address sexual assaults on campus. 

Ideas that came forward included an emphasis on bystander training and a new app that would offer resources for students and faculty, such as the locations of the nearest crisis center or hospital. 

For Kuster, the topic is personal. At Tuesday's meeting, she again shared the story of how she was sexually assaulted at Dartmouth College 40 years ago as well as being mugged in D.C., in hopes she said, that the culture around sexual assault will begin to change.

“One of the reporters asked me, 'Why didn’t you tell anyone?,' " Kuster said, who spoke of these incidents publicly for the first time last month.  "Well, it was so stupid of me to walk home alone. I was embarrassed, I never walked home alone and the idea that I walked home alone that night was my fault."

“There is nothing remarkable about my story – that is the sad part of this," Kuster told the crowd. "I didn’t tell these stories because they are unique and remarkable, I told them because they are all too common.”

But when asked by reporters whether Phillips Exeter mishandled the recent allegations, Kuster declined to comment. 

Kuster is co-sponsor of a bill working its way through Congress that would require federally funded schools to increase their prevention and reporting measures.