Out in the Open

Elite Prep School St Paul's Reveals History of Sex Abuse Scandals

On Monday, St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire released a 73-page report detailing dozens of instances of sexual misconduct—from fondling and indecent exposure to rape.

Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast

An elite prep school has exposed 13 former faculty and staff members for sexually abusing students there over a 40-year period.

On Monday, St. Paul’s School (SPS) in New Hampshire released a 73-page report detailing multiple instances of sexual misconduct—from fondling and indecent exposure to rape—that were substantiated after a year-long investigation into allegations of decades-old abuse.

The report, conducted by law firm Casner & Edwards, names all the teachers involved.

The firm, which amassed testimonies from former students from between 1948 and 1988, found substantiated claims of sexual abuse by 13 former faculty and members of staff; further claims of sexual misconduct by 10 other former faculty and staff; and unsubstantiated allegations of sexual misconduct by 11 current and former faculty and staff.

The authors of the report—Scott Harshbarger, Edward V. Colbert III, and Carmen F. Francella—wrote that “it is clear to us that, beginning in 1995, SPS leadership began to undertake efforts to establish written policies on boundaries and sexual abuse and harassment, and to educate faculty on mandatory child abuse reporting laws.”

A representative from St. Paul’s School confirmed in an email that the report was sent to the Concord Police Department on Monday morning, and that the New Hampshire Attorney General and Governor’s offices both received copies.

The findings come a month after Choate Rosemary Hall, a private school in Connecticut, released a similar report naming a dozen former faculty members accused of molesting students.

Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire also recently named a handful of faculty members said to have sexually abused students in the 1970s and 1980s.

Still more sexual abuse allegations have surfaced at a number of other prestigious schools in recent years, including Horace Mann and Poly Prep in New York and St. George’s School in Rhode Island, forcing current administrations to confront institutional patterns of coverup and denial through independent investigations into the abuse.

Last summer, St. George’s settled with more than 30 people who had sued the school for covering up allegations of sexual abuse.

In some cases, faculty and staff who either resigned or were fired from one of these schools went on to teach at another.

Indeed, the investigation into sexual abuse at St. Paul’s School kicked off after Howard “Howdy” Willard White Jr., who taught sacred studies there in the late 1960s and early 1970s, was accused of  molesting students at St. George’s School in the 1970s, after leaving St. Paul’s. (Last week, White Jr. pleaded guilty to molesting children at St. George’s and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.)

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One former St. Paul’s student was 15 when she was “repeatedly sexually abused” and raped by White Jr. during a six-week summer trip, according to the report.

Edward Lawrence “Larry” Katzenbach III, who taught English and History at St. Paul’s from 1971 to 1995, was accused by 10 former students of sexual abuse or misconduct in the 1970s and 1980s.

One former student recalled babysitting for Mr. Katzenbach’s baby daughter in 1975 at his campus apartment, according to the report, where he pulled his pants down and “with his penis in his hand said, ‘Touch it…Touch it…Just touch it!”

She claimed that she didn’t report the incident to any other faculty or staff because she was a “‘scholarship student’ and feared that she had accused ‘the most celebrated master’ of sexual misconduct,’” the report said.

The report, which comes two years after the rape trial of former St. Paul’s student Owen Labrie, also found that a separate investigation carried out in 2000 into many of the same allegations was “insufficient.”

“The failures uncovered in this report have hurt every member of our School community, none more so than the survivors of these abuses,” Rector Michael G. Hirschfeld wrote in a letter to the St. Paul’s School community. “It is with deep gratitude that we recognize the candor and courage of the survivors and witnesses who shared their experiences.”