Po­lice wanted to ar­rest prep school deans in sex abuse case

The Day - - OBITUARIES - By MICHAEL CASEY

Ex­eter, N.H. — Po­lice rec­om­mended two deans from an elite prep school be ar­rested for fail­ing to prop­erly re­port al­le­ga­tions a male stu­dent groped a fe­male class­mate, a state po­lice re­port shows.

The Novem­ber 2016 state po­lice re­port, ob­tained Tues­day by The As­so­ci­ated Press, shows ar­rest war­rants were pre­pared for Phillips Ex­eter Academy’s Arthur J. Cos­grove and Melissa D. Mis­chke.

The school is among sev­eral in New Eng­land that have been the fo­cus of sex­ual-as­sault al­le­ga­tions.

Cos­grove and Mis­chke were ac­cused of fail­ing to con­tact the De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices af­ter a 17-year-old stu­dent told them of be­ing at­tacked in 2015 by 18-year-old Chuk­wudi Ik­peazu, of Park­land, Fla., in a school church base­ment.

Pros­e­cu­tors dropped sex­ual-as­sault charges against Ik­peazu in June. Ik­peazu’s at­tor­ney, Richard Samd­peril, said at the time that he main­tained his in­no­cence.

The war­rants for the deans on mis­de­meanor charges of vi­o­lat­ing state re­port­ing law were given to the Rock­ing­ham County at­tor­ney’s of­fice. The New York Times, which first re­ported the story, said the deans were not charged.

Rock­ing­ham County District At­tor­ney Pa­tri­cia Con­way did not re­turn a call seek­ing com­ment. Nei­ther the deans nor a school spokes­woman re­turned emails seek­ing com­ment.

It’s un­clear why the deans were not charged, but the school reached with po­lice in Septem­ber an agree­ment say­ing sus­pected acts of sex­ual abuse in­volv­ing chil­dren will be re­ported to po­lice and to the state Di­vi­sion of Chil­dren, Youth and Fam­i­lies.

The re­sponse of the two deans is likely to em­bolden crit­ics who have long ac­cused the school of mis­han­dling abuse cases. In this case, the school came un­der fire af­ter the cam­pus min­is­ter, the Rev. Robert Thomp­son, urged the 17-year-old to rec­on­cile with Ik­peazu and asked him to do “penance” by tak­ing her weekly batches of his bread, which he baked and sold on cam­pus.

Michael Whit­field Jones, an alum­nus from New York who has raised aware­ness about the school’s han­dling of sex­ual-abuse cases, said the two deans should “be re­moved.”

Con­cerns about sex abuse at Ex­eter were first raised fol­low­ing rev­e­la­tions in March 2016 about for­mer teacher Rick Schubart, who was forced to re­sign in 2011 af­ter ad­mit­ting sex­ual mis­con­duct dat­ing to the 1970s. Then, in April, an­other teacher was fired amid al­le­ga­tions he had sex­ual en­coun­ters with a stu­dent decades ago.

Soon af­ter, a for­mer ad­mis­sions of­fi­cer turned him­self in to po­lice over al­le­ga­tions he sex­u­ally as­saulted a 14-yearold who was vis­it­ing the school in 1973. In May, Arthur Peekel pleaded guilty to sex­ual as­sault in the case and reg­is­tered as a sex of­fender.

Those cases prompted the school to launch its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion, lead­ing to a re­port in which it iden­ti­fied five more for­mer staff mem­bers ac­cused of abuse.

A law firm com­mis­sioned by Phillips Ex­eter iden­ti­fied four teach­ers and a psy­chol­o­gist ac­cused of sex­u­ally in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­ior in­volv­ing eight stu­dents from 1966 to the 1980s.

Three of the ac­cused have died. The other two were barred from cam­pus.

SARAH GORDON/THE DAY

Kayak­ers pad­dle through Long Is­land Sound past Ledge Light on Tues­day as seen from East­ern Point in Gro­ton.

JIM COLE/AP PHOTO, FILE

This April 11, 2016 photo shows a por­tion of the pres­ti­gious Phillips Ex­eter Academy cam­pus in Ex­eter, N.H.

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