A criminal investigation has been launched into St. Paul’s School in response to child endangerment allegations surfacing from a former upperclassman’s sexual assault convictions.
The New York Times reports that the investigation will focus on whether the school “endangered child welfare or committed obstruction of governmental operations.”
The school has a checkered past of sexual assault allegations, ranging from 13 staff members engaging in sexual misconduct between 1948-1988 to the most recent rape allegations. Students allegedly engaged in the time honored “Senior Salute” tradition where senior students proposition younger students for sexual conquests and tally their results. In 2015, former St. Paul’s student Owen Labrie was sentenced to one year imprisonment and had his Harvard acceptance rescinded.
New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald says the goal of the investigation is to protect children from sexual violence moving forward, stating that the “protection of children is a paramount priority for law enforcement.”
Although Labrie was acquitted on the felony rape charges that the investigation seeks to rectify, Superior Court Judge Lawrence Smukler sentenced the former prep school standout to 12 months in prison for a plethora of offenses, including misdemeanour sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and computer-related seduction.
Computer-related seduction is a felony charge aimed at preventing catfishing, the practice of a person posing under an alias to create a false identity in attempt to pursue deceptive online romances. In Labrie’s case, he used Facebook to contact a 15-year-old underclassman in pursuit of consensual sexual relations when he was 18.