St. Paul’s School called ‘haven for sexual predators’ in new lawsuit

St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H.
St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H. –Jim Cole / The Associated Press

BOSTON — A new lawsuit has accused St. Paul’s School, an elite boarding school in Concord, New Hampshire, of a decadeslong “pattern of negligence” related to sexual misconduct and accused a former teacher who had not previously been publicly named in connection with the abuse.

The suit, filed on behalf of two alumni of St. Paul’s and one of their wives, accused Gerry E. Studds, a former U.S. representative from Massachusetts who had taught at the school, of inappropriate conduct. Studds died in 2006. His family members could not be reached Thursday for comment.

The lawsuit accused Gerry E. Studds, a former United States representative who had taught at the school, of inappropriate conduct. —AP Photo/Robert Giroux

“St. Paul’s was a haven for sexual predators, and the school was negligent in failing to prevent the sexual abuse of its students,” said the lawsuit, which was filed this week in Merrimack County, New Hampshire, Superior Court. It also accused four other educators of sexual misconduct, all of whom have previously been named in investigations released by the school.

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Studds was not named in the earlier reports released by the school, which declined further comment.

The lawsuit described an alleged incident in the late 1960s involving one of the plaintiffs, Keith Mithoefer, when he was a student at the school and Studds was a teacher. According to Mithoefer, the two went out to dinner and along a deserted road on the way home, Studds pulled over, offered Mithoefer a cigarette, and later placed his hand between Mithoefer’s legs and suggested that he perform a sex act.

Mithoefer, now 67, said he was shocked and asked to go home.

The lawsuit also claimed that Mithoefer experienced inappropriate conversations or touching by three other faculty members at St. Paul’s. He also said a member of the administration was aware of at least some of misconduct, and suggested that Mithoefer could receive his diploma only if he kept quiet.

Another plaintiff, George Chester Irons, said that in 1973 or 1974 he and other students were taken to New York City by Coolidge Mead Chapin, an administrator at the school, who ordered them to have sex with prostitutes as he yelled commands.

The lawsuit said the plaintiffs were seeking “enhanced compensatory damages,” but it did not say how much.

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