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Prep school responds to sex assault account in Vanity Fair

  • FILE - This Feb. 26, 2016 file photo, shows the entrance to St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H. A former student detailed her account of sexual assault in the 1990s at the New Hampshire boarding school in a recent Vanity Fair article, and school officials commended her for speaking out. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

Published: 6/28/2020 8:41:10 PM
Modified: 6/28/2020 8:41:08 PM

CONCORD — A former student detailed her account of sexual assault in the 1990s at a New Hampshire boarding school in a recent Vanity Fair article, and school officials commended her for speaking out.

The magazine published an excerpt Thursday from Lacy Crawford’s forthcoming memoir, Notes on a Silencing.

The author details her alleged assault by two seniors on the hockey team at St. Paul’s School in Concord. Crawford, who was 15 at the time of the alleged assault, says she developed herpetic lesions on her throat.

Crawford says in the memoir, which comes out in July, that her family sought to take legal action and the local district attorney’s office was considering pursuing criminal charges, but she says school officials kicked her out, threatening to say she dealt Prozac and other drugs and had sex with a number of students on campus.

School officials did not directly address Crawford’s claims. But Archibald Cox Jr., St. Paul’s board chairman, and Kathleen Giles, the elite school’s rector, said in a statement that Crawford has a right to share her experience but also stressed the prep school has taken steps to reform in recent years.

“We respect her courage and honor her voice,” the two said in the statement to the school community this week. “And we also honor her desire that the school acknowledge its failings, accept responsibility, and work, not just promise, to do better so that all the students in our care can feel and be safe and comfortable at school.”

St. Paul’s School, like other elite prep schools across the country, has grappled with its history of sexual abuse claims and embarked on reforms aimed at preventing abuse and supporting victims, according to school officials.

The school’s reckoning was sparked by the high-profile case of Owen Labrie, of Tunbridge, who was accused in 2014 of assaulting a freshman girl as part of a “Senior Salute” competition among upperclassman seeking to have sex with younger students.

Labrie was eventually convicted and served about six months in jail, and his case prompted other former students to step forward with allegations of sexual abuse by faculty and staff, some dating back decades.

The school subsequently found credible evidence of abuse among around 20 faculty members, and a state attorney general investigation also found evidence of criminal wrongdoing, but an agreement was reached to put the school under government oversight instead of bringing charges.




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