10212020 Prep School Sex Abuse

This Feb. 26, 2016, photo, shows the entrance to St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H. Jeffrey Maher, a monitor overseeing the handling of sexual abuse claims at the school, has resigned, accusing campus officials of thwarting his efforts and retaliating against him. Maher was appointed as independent compliance overseer last year under an agreement with the attorney general’s office that subjected the school to up to five years of oversight in lieu of criminal charges.

CONCORD — A monitor appointed to oversee the handling of sexual abuse claims at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire has resigned, accusing campus officials of thwarting his efforts.

Jeffrey Maher was appointed as the school’s independent compliance overseer last year as part of an agreement with the attorney general’s office that subjected the school in Concord to up to five years of government oversight in lieu of criminal charges. The 2018 agreement followed an investigation that found credible evidence of abuse involving 20 former faculty members over several decades.

Maher, a former college safety director and police captain, resigned Monday, citing what he called “an intolerable working environment.” He said school leadership questioned many conditions of the agreement, discouraged investigations that could have legal impacts and tried to limit his access to information. He said an administrator publicly berated him and that he was retaliated against for trying to do his job.

Maher also said he is facing a “seemingly orchestrated threat” of a civil lawsuit by an administrator.

“I have been criticized and accused of exceeding the scope of my responsibilities,” he wrote. “It would seem such accusations arrive only when I am less than laudatory of the school’s policies and protocols.”

In a statement, the school said it had raised concerned with the attorney general earlier this month about Maher acting outside of his role. It denied all of his allegations, saying it has initiated numerous investigations into misconduct allegations. And it said if school officials had questioned conditions of the agreement, Maher would have been obligated to document those concerns in his bi-annual reports, none of which included such allegations.

“We believe that the school has complied with all of its obligations under the Settlement Agreement and will continue to honor these obligations going forward,” the school said.

Attorney General Gordon MacDonald said Maher’s resignation letter raises very serious concerns, and that his office is working with the school to address the future of the settlement agreement and the role of the compliance overseer. He thanked Maher for his work, “particularly in the face of what had plainly become an untenable situation.”

Maher’s job included regularly reporting the status of the school’s compliance with the agreement. His most recent report, in January, said the school was doing a better job of addressing complaints but should improve its policies around investigating crimes and assisting victims.

The report also said the school received 31 incident reports over the last six months of 2019. The incidents, mostly involving sexual or physical assault, occurred on and off the campus. More than half were incidents that happened in the past, but the report did not give a time frame.

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