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Phillips Exeter ousts another faculty member for 'sexual encounter' with student

By JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent

April 13. 2016 7:25PM

EXETER — Phillips Exeter Academy announced Wednesday that it has ousted a second faculty member after he admitted to past sexual encounters with a student.

In a letter to the school community, Principal Lisa MacFarlane said Steve Lewis, who was a current faculty member, "confessed to sexual encounters" with a student more than two decades ago.

After a police investigation, Lewis was fired and barred from campus and all Exeter events, the letter said.

The firing follows the school’s announcement on March 30 that former history teacher Rick Schubart had been forced to resign in 2011 and was later barred from campus after he admitted to sexual misconduct involving two former female students in the 1970s and 1980s.

When Schubart was forced out, Tom Hassan, husband of Gov. Maggie Hassan, was serving as principal and has since apologized for the way the case was handled. The school has been criticized for failing to make the Schubart case public at the time. The first victim was discovered in 2011 and a second came forward in 2015, the school said.

He did not face criminal charges; police have said the statute of limitations had expired.

Since revealing the misconduct claims against Schubart in recent weeks, officials from the elite prep school have reached out to alumni and encouraged them to report any incidents that may have occurred.

According to MacFarlane, the school has received additional claims of alleged sexual misconduct and each was immediately reported to Exeter police.

Police conducted an investigation into Lewis, she said, which resulted in his admission and subsequent firing.

"We are aware of no additional allegations involving Mr. Lewis and we continue to urge anyone with information about inappropriate sexual conduct connected to PEA to contact us or the Exeter Police Department. The Exeter Police Department has informed us that there are no investigations involving current faculty members," the letter said.

Exeter Police Chief William Shupe said last week that police were investigating new claims against a current and a former faculty member. However, it wasn’t immediately clear if the current member was Lewis.

MacFarlane, who replaced Hassan as principal in September, reminded the school community that the "safety and well-being of our students is our highest priority" and the school is committed to supporting police in their investigations and uncovering past incidents.

The school has also said that it is hiring an outside law firm to investigate all allegations, but will continue to work closely with police.

"We will take whatever steps are needed to make Exeter the safest possible place for our students. We have extensive policies, procedures, and educational offerings in place to help recognize the signs of harassment or assault, and to take appropriate action to prevent inappropriate sexual behavior," the letter said.

jschreiber@newstote.com


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