Lawsuit: Elite prep school allowed culture of assault and harassment, sexual conquest 'point system'
A lawsuit alleges a culture of sexual harassment St. Paul's Prep School.
A former student at an elite prep school in New Hampshire is suing the school, claiming that administrators did not stop a culture of sexual harassment and assault, according to the federal lawsuit obtained by ABC News.
In the lawsuit, filed against St. Paul’s Prep School, the student also claims there was a storage shed used by students to have sex, according to the lawsuit. Students also maintained a sexual conquest “point system,” the suit claims.
The plaintiff, who is identified as "Jane Doe," claims that she was sexually assaulted beginning in the fall of 2012 by a classmate identified as M.L., with whom she’d initially intended to have a romantic non-sexual relationship, according to the lawsuit.
"Jane Doe" was in her first year at St. Paul's School when, the suit alleges, the assaults began. The relationship became abusive when M.L. forced her to perform sex acts without her consent on multiple occasions, the suit claims.
When "Jane Doe" reported the abuse to the school’s assistant dean of students, the dean did not alert her parents or authorities, according to the lawsuit.
Instead, "Jane Doe" was ordered to see a school counselor, who confronted her about “making up a story about being raped,” the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit also alleges administrators knew about the “Senior Salute,” a “tradition” in which senior male students reportedly tried to have sex with or “score” with as many female underclass students as possible.
Some of this “scoring,” according to the lawsuit, would take place in the “Mars Hotel,” a storage shed with a sofa where the plaintiff says students reported the floor was "lined with discarded condoms."
"Jane Doe" alleges that the "the importance of scoring" was discussed in a study project for which a school Rector, Michael Hirschfeld, was the faculty advisor. She also alleges that there was a prevalent use of alcohol and illicit drugs including heroin and cocaine by some students as young as 13, according to the lawsuit.
The school released a statement saying Hirschfeld denies failing to report the alleged sexual assault.
"Mr. Hirschfeld vehemently refutes that he ever failed in his responsibility to report an alleged sexual assault to Concord police," the statement read. "This statement is false. He looks forward to cooperating fully with any investigation into such claims."
"Jane Doe" states in the lawsuit that due to the trauma of attending the prep school, she had to undergo extensive psychiatric treatment. She also dropped out of the school in 2014 and had to be home-schooled.
The lawsuit is seeking a trial and compensation for "severe emotional distress."
Archibald Cox, the school’s president of the Board of Trustees, addressed the allegations in a letter to the school community.
“We are learning about these allegations for the first time this evening as we were not contacted before the complaint was filed," the letter read. "We take these allegations very seriously, but do not know whether they are accurate or not.”
In August 2015, St. Paul’s student Owen Labrie was found guilty of using a computer to lure an underage female schoolmate into a sexual encounter. He was sentenced to one year in prison, and is appealing his conviction, according to the Associated Press.