NH--Victims want minister fired from NH private school
For immediate release: Wednesday, July 13, 2016
A minister should be immediately fired and others should be harshly disciplined at a New Hampshire private school where sexual violence has been hidden and law enforcement has been ignored.
Phillips Exeter Academy’s Rev. Robert Thompson made an arrogant, self-serving and perhaps illegal decision to stay silent about a sexual assault (by Chukwudi “Chudi” Ikpeazu) and take it upon himself to fashion a ridiculous agreement that minimized the horror experienced by Michaella – a purported “act of penance” that involved her assailant “baking bread for the teen for the remainder of the school year,” virtually guaranteeing that she’d be forced to see her assailant every week. Shame on Rev. Thompson.
This is a common but disturbing pattern by clergy: keeping quiet about sexual violence, assuming that they know best and usurping the role of police and prosecutor in favor of unhealthy and coercive “forgiveness” and “reconciliation.”
We are glad that, according to the Globe, "Police are also investigating Exeter itself for its handling of Michaella’s case and other instances of sexual misconduct by both students and faculty," but outraged that "weeks after the October encounter, outside authorities knew nothing of the case — school officials didn’t contact them."
We hope law enforcement will charge Exeter officials with obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, tampering with witnesses or similar offenses. We hope Exeter officials are found guilty and face the most severe punishment possible. And we hope staff at other schools get the message: when you know of or suspect sex crimes, call 911.
Regardless of what the justice system does, we hope Exeter’s board fires or at least demotes other administrators and teachers who put the school’s reputation and their careers ahead of the safety of students and staff.
No matter what happens next, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in schools, churches or institutions – especially at private entities – to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)