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Pass it on: St. Paul's School mirrors church failings

EDITORIAL
March 03. 2018 5:17PM

DAVID POOK 



A trusted institution not only covers up for sexual predators on its payroll, but paves the way for the predator to move to a new hunting ground, with no warning to the young people in his sights.

The sexual assault scandal that rocked the Catholic Church undercut that institution's credibility not just because it ignored pedophile priests, but because high church officials covered up the crimes by moving priests from parish to parish when a new victim would come forward.

This familiar pattern appears to be repeating itself in Concord, where St. Paul's School admits it should not have provided a "glowing reference" for a teacher with an alleged history of questionable behavior and at least one inappropriate personal relationship with a student.

St. Paul's terminated humanities teacher David Pook in 2008 but helped him get a job at The Derryfield School in Manchester. Rector William Rankin Matthews Jr. agreed to say that Pook was leaving St. Paul's for personal reasons, was a "master teacher," and that he would hire Pook back if given the chance.

These were lies. St. Paul's had received numerous reports of Pook's questionable behavior around female students dating back to 2002. In 2008, it learned of a relationship with a student. That led to his termination.

Rather than warn his next employer about Pook's history, St. Paul's passed the buck to The Derryfield, which hired Pook in 2009. Pook had been teaching at The Derryfield School without anyone knowing ever since.

That is until last week, when Pook was charged with coaxing a former student to lie to a grand jury. The Derryfield School fired Pook and barred him from campus.

Attorney General Gordon MacDonald is investigating whether St. Paul's actions, in this case and in the many other instances of sexual misconduct on campus, broke the law.

At the very least, it is a breach of the public's trust. St. Paul's passed Pook down the line. It didn't care if he was around children, so long as he was someone else's problem.


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