A former police chief has been appointed the new independent overseer at St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H. to see that the elite boarding school complies with a 2018 settlement agreement over allegations of sexual abuse, officials said Tuesday.
Donald E. Sullivan, a law enforcement veteran with more than 20 years’ experience, will step into the role “as soon as possible,” New Hampshire Deputy Attorney General Jane E. Young’s office said in a statement.
His appointment comes almost three months after the previous overseer, Jeffrey T. Mahar, resigned citing an “intolerable working environment.”
Sullivan previously served as police chief in the small towns of Hill and Alexandria, N.H., where he was chief from 2008 to 2020, according to the statement. The attorney general’s office selected him from three candidates provided by the school last month, Young’s office said.
“During this this Office’s prior work with Chief Sullivan, he demonstrated the required experience, expertise and temperament to be successful in the role of Independent Compliance Overseer for St. Paul’s School,” Young said in the statement. “We are confident that Chief Sullivan shares our mission of ensuring that student safety is the top priority at St. Paul’s School.”
The school has also recently agreed to hire an assistant to the compliance overseer, indemnify those in both roles for any actions taken in their official capacity, and to work with the the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network on a comprehensive assessment of student safety, Young’s office said.
Mahar, resigned abruptly in October, saying in his resignation letter that the school was effectively hampering his ability to investigate institutional misconduct. He said school leadership told him that they did not want investigations “which could have civil or criminal impacts,” and that administrators wanted to be notified every time Maher spoke with an employee.
St. Paul’s School disputed Mahar’s claims.
In a 2018 settlement agreement, St. Paul’s agreed to oversight for at least five years with an independent compliance overseer on campus who would report at least twice a year to the attorney general’s office.
The school has been the subject intense public scrutiny since 2014, after a freshman girl was sexually assaulted during a sexual hazing tradition known as the “senior salute.” That case led to the high-profile trial of Owen Labrie, a former St. Paul’s student who was convicted of sexually assaulting his classmate, Chessy Prout, in 2015.
A separate, independent investigation of sexual misconduct at the school substantiated abuse claims against 20 former faculty and staff members who worked at St. Paul’s between 1947 and 1999.