Metro

Abuse allegations at Phillips Exeter prompt investigation

Phillips Exeter Academy announced last week that Rick Schubart (above right), who held various positions at at the school during a four-decade career, had been permanently barred from campus after admitting sexual misconduct.
Lisa Poole for The Boston Globe/File 2004
Phillips Exeter Academy announced last week that Rick Schubart (above right), who held various positions at at the school during a four-decade career, had been permanently barred from campus after admitting sexual misconduct.

A sex-abuse scandal at Phillips Exeter Academy widened on Tuesday, as police said they are investigating “multiple allegations of misconduct and abuse” involving former faculty members at the prestigious New Hampshire boarding school.

The announcement came less than a week after the school publicly disclosed that Rick Schubart — who held positions as chair of the history department, director of admissions, dorm adviser, and coach during his nearly 40-year career — had been permanently barred from campus after admitting to sexual misconduct in two cases dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.

Authorities confirmed on Tuesday that the new allegations involve former faculty but not Schubart.

Advertisement

Exeter, N.H., Police Chief William Shupe said Tuesday in a statement that the academy had provided information about the new claims and that his department was at “the beginning stages of what will be a complete and thorough investigation into each allegation.”

Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
Forget yesterday's news. Get what you need today in this early-morning email.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

It was not clear Tuesday night how many former faculty members are accused of abuse, how many alleged victims have come forward, and when the events allegedly took place.

Robin Giampa, a spokeswoman for Phillips Exeter, declined to comment on the police investigation but said in an e-mail that “if anyone reports a possible claim we immediately notify the Exeter Police Department and upon their approval, launch a thorough investigation.”

Shupe said Tuesday that because “these investigations are ongoing and are in their infancy, no additional information is available at this time. However, we encourage anyone with information or concerns to reach out to the Exeter Police Department at 603-772-1212.”

Schubart, 70, had been forced to retire and removed from campus housing after the academy learned of the first case involving him in 2011, but he remained an emeritus faculty member until a second allegation surfaced in 2015. His emeritus status was then revoked.

Advertisement

Schubart has not been charged criminally.

The academy has said that school officials notified the authorities immediately in 2011 and in 2015 upon learning of the allegations against Schubart.

He “admitted that sexual misconduct occurred” in both cases, the academy said last week.

The scandal has also affected politics in New Hampshire, where the Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan, is running for the US Senate against the Republican incumbent, Kelly Ayotte.

Hassan’s husband, Tom Hassan, was principal of Phillips Exeter in 2011 when the school reported Schubart’s misconduct and forced him to resign.

Advertisement

Tom Hassan, who stepped down as principal last year, on Friday apologized for failing to publicly disclose Schubart’s misconduct in 2011 and 2015, saying in a statement that the school was “attempting to balance the privacy and wishes of the victim with the utmost need to ensure the safety of members of the community.”

Schubart has been a regular contributor to Maggie Hassan’s campaigns and was listed as a member of her Rockingham County Steering Committee when she ran for governor in 2012.

She told reporters that “I sensed something was wrong” when Schubart abruptly retired in 2011 and that “I didn’t have the kind of information that would have indicated that removal was appropriate and my husband was protecting the confidentiality of the victim.”

The governor said Tuesday night in a statement that “any allegations must be thoroughly investigated by law enforcement and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“My heart continues to go out to the victims and to the entire Phillips Exeter Academy community.”

Phillips Exeter serves male and female students in grades nine through 12.

Jenn Abelson and Jonathan Saltzman of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.