Action Plan

We have developed a plan that details our intensive work in the following areas: policies and procedures; student support and assistance; education and training; climate and culture; and assessment and improvement.

Click here to see our Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Action Plan.

Policy Regarding Counseling Services

We recognize that confronting memories of childhood sexual abuse can be difficult and painful. For many, having access to the services of a traditional counselor or other professional is an important step on the journey towards healing. As an expression of our concern, the Academy wishes to provide financial assistance for these services to any student or alum who is a survivor of inappropriate sexual contact by an Academy employee or student. The Academy will provide assistance for counseling or other sessions at any provider you choose, up to a maximum of $10,000 in financial support.

If you are seeking assistance, please call Christina Palmer, director of student well-being, at 603-777-3307. Ms. Palmer can assist you in identifying counseling professionals in your area, and can provide you with an advocate if needed. She is also available to assist with informing your provider of the Academy’s policy and can help with the provider reimbursement process, while maintaining complete confidentiality relating to any treatment you seek.

Answers to Your Questions about Ongoing Investigations

We know many of you have questions, and although we are limited in what we can share while the investigations are underway, we want to be able to answer what we can.

Q: What reports have you received?

In the months since that initial disclosure, we have received reports that alleged a wide range of misconduct against students, in some cases by adults and in other cases by other students. They ranged from unsubstantiated second-hand rumors, to acts such as unwelcome hugs or offensive comments, to allegations of sexual abuse. The dates of alleged misconduct range from 1940’s to the present era. Every allegation is being investigated, whether by the Exeter Police Department or by Holland & Knight, the law firm that PEA has engaged to conduct impartial investigations beyond the criminal investigations being done by EPD, or both.

Q: What role does the Exeter Police Department play and how does the Academy coordinate with them?

As is required by New Hampshire law, we report all allegations to the Exeter Police Department and to New Hampshire’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families. EPD is investigating these matters thoroughly, and we agreed not to pursue any investigations of our own until they officially closed each individual case. We also promised we would do nothing that might interfere with their work, including commenting on any ongoing investigations. They specifically requested that we refrain from contacting victims, or anyone involved in their investigations.

Q: How did you choose Holland & Knight?

In choosing H&K, we looked specifically for a firm and a team that had a history of investigations and experience in the education arena. For example, the Holland & Knight team includes Jeremy Sternberg, a former federal prosecutor; Phil Catanzano, formerly with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), where he investigated schools; and Miriam McKendall, who has many years of deep experience as an education attorney.

Importantly, we also looked for a firm and people that Exeter has neither engaged nor paid in the past. We structured the arrangement to limit our interactions with them to providing information at their request, and to receiving findings from them. Although most of their work is done from off-campus, we have a secure and confidential space for them to work when they are in Exeter. And we imposed a 5-year ban on doing any future business with them. We derived these requirements from the guidelines used by the federal government when it engages outside legal counsel for impartial investigations. In setting these conditions, we sought to ensure that Exeter would not in any way influence, or even create the appearance of influencing, the integrity or impartiality of their work.

Q: Why is this taking so long?

Early in the summer, the EPD released to us a handful of cases, and Holland and Knight has completed investigations of these. While individual police investigations might conclude at different moments, cases are not officially closed until the EPD formally issues the paperwork that releases us to take subsequent steps.

In August, the EPD released additional cases to us. We are in the process of contacting victims, and Holland & Knight will examine these. We understand that for those who reported misconduct in April, there has been a long wait, and for that we are truly sorry. The long timeline resulted from the fact that we followed our protocol with the police – to not begin our own investigation of a report until EPD had fully closed theirs -- with extreme care. We hope Holland & Knight will complete its investigations by year’s end or soon after. We are committed to sharing what we have learned from those investigations, and we know that many of you have emphasized the importance of sharing that information in a way that honors the privacy of survivors and of accused individuals who are not found to have committed abuse.

We know there still may be victims of misconduct of whom we are unaware. We encourage anyone who has been harmed while a student at Exeter to come forward. We want to remind the community that there are several ways to report: directly to the school, directly to the Exeter Police Department (by calling 603-772-1212), or to our anonymous contact line, EthicsPoint.

Q: What support is available to victims in the meantime?

We are committed to supporting our community as we wait for cases to close. This includes supporting the cost of counseling or other therapies for those who have come forward, or of travel or other expenses that a person may incur in the course of their investigation. We want to remind everyone that, as investigators, H&K do not recommend outcomes. We have worked, are working, and will work with claimants and where appropriate their own legal counsel to support survivors.

Q: What can you say at this time about the path forward?

Underlying all of this work is the crucial question of how the school we love so much could have done better for the students who were harmed during their time here. It is very painful to know that in some instances, they did not receive the care they needed and deserved, and that the school may have failed to hold those who harmed them fully accountable. We are learning hard lessons about our culture from these reviews, lessons about what it truly means to put the students first in everything we do, and about how Exeter can and must do better.

Ultimately, we are committed to finding meaningful ways that allow us all, together, to restore our community and honor each member of it, both for individuals and collectively. We have begun to reach out to those whose cases are now closing, and to those who have indicated a desire to speak with us. We acknowledge that our community’s needs are many and varied. We want to honor each of you, to listen, to learn, to reflect, and to act together to strengthen our school for future Exonians.