Concord NH police, St. Paul’s School review their understanding on crime reporting
david at virtueonline.org
Thu Oct 12 17:21:03 EDT 2017
Concord NH police, St. Paul’s School review their understanding on crime
Oct. 8, 2017
Does your school have a policy on reporting crime to civil authorities,
especially sexual assault? Is it part of a memorandum of understanding
with those authorities? Does it include misdemeanors as well as
St. Paul’s School (Episcopal) and the Concord, NH police signed a
memorandum of understanding in 2012. The school had a history of not
reporting sex crimes. The MOU spells out the school’s obligation to
report on-campus crime, and, in particular, sexual assault, to the
police. The parties have taken note of an MOU recently signed between
Phillips Exeter Academy and Exeter police.
There are two related developments. The New Hampshire Supreme Court has
accepted a request for review from Owen Labrie, a former student at the
school. And the school has asked for a delay in the civil trial
surrounding charges against the school by Labrie’s victim.
Both Saint Paul’s and Phillips Exeter made national headlines in recent
years for their handling of sexual misconduct allegations against
students and former teachers. The boarding schools also independently
hired law firms to investigate claims brought by students against former
faculty and staff spanning decades.
The latest memorandum of understanding (MOU) reached between Phillips
Exeter and Exeter police incorporates reporting requirements set forth
in three statutes: the Child Protection Act, the Safe Schools Act, and
the Student Hazing law. In contrast, the current MOU between St. Paul’s
and Concord police cites just the Safe Schools Act, which law
enforcement officials and advocates say has “a glaring omission.”
Under New Hampshire’s Safe Schools Act, schools are not legally required
to report misdemeanor-level sexual assault to police; the law only
references felony-level sex crimes. However, the act is in direct
conflict with the state’s Child Protection Act, which mandates the
reporting of suspected instances of child abuse and neglect.
The MOU between Phillips Exeter and Exeter police closes that gap. “The
MOU outlines the duty of all adults, and underscores PEA’s commitment to
immediately report any act of sexual assault, regardless of the possible
legal classification of the act or the time the act occurred,” officials
wrote, using the acronym for Phillips Exeter Academy.
Hirschfeld [head of school at St. Paul’s] previously told the Monitor
that “anything we think that might be sexual assault is reported to
N.H. Supreme Court to review Labrie’s request for new trial, Concord
St. Paul’s School graduate Owen Labrie will have his argument for a new
trial reviewed by the state’s highest court.
Labrie maintains that his high-profile defense team, funded by St.
Paul’s alumni, erred by not conducting basic legal research, by not
impeaching certain witnesses and by not challenging the sole felony
computer charge. The legal team was led by Boston-based attorney J.W.
Carney, who testified about the defense’s trial strategy during a
three-day evidentiary hearing in late February.
Carney told the court that throughout the August 2015 trial, his biggest
fear was jurors hearing from the three girls whom the victim had
confided in. The victim spoke to those friends immediately after her
encounter with Labrie, and told them she had not given her consent.
The report of another person’s words by a witness is considered hearsay
and usually not allowed as evidence in court. However, if Carney or his
co-counsel did not walk a tight rope, numerous witnesses could have been
permitted to testify that Labrie forced himself on the girl, which would
have corroborated her story, he said.
AG’s criminal probe prompts St. Paul’s to ask for delay in civil trial,
St. Paul’s School says next March is too soon for a civil trial in the
lawsuit filed by the family of Chessy Prout now that the institution is
also the subject of a criminal probe led by New Hampshire’s attorney
The attorney general’s office launched its investigation into the elite
boarding school’s handling of sexual assault and misconduct claims in
early July. At that time, authorities said the investigation will
initially focus on issues of possible child endangerment and obstruction
of justice, but could expand if the evidence warrants such action.
Chessy Prout was sexually assaulted as a freshman by senior Owen Labrie
in May 2014, a Merrimack County jury found. She chose to shed her
anonymity less than a month after St. Paul’s objected to her family’s
use of pseudonyms in the civil lawsuit….
The Prout family has objected, in part, to the school’s request to
extend deadlines, arguing that St. Paul’s is seeking “far more than mere
logistical accommodations.” Alex and Susan Prout, the parents of former
St. Paul’s student Chessy Prout, filed their lawsuit against the school
in spring 2016, but note in their partial objection that not a single
witness has given sworn out-of-court testimony, also known as a
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