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Teacher at Mass. prep school sued by former NH state rep over alleged abuse


A lawsuit seeking $5 million in damages has been filed in federal court in Boston by a former four-term member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, alleging she was sexually abused by a teacher while enrolled at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., in the 1980s.

Marie Sapienza, now a Hampstead-based attorney, alleges that novelist and former teacher Alexander Theroux sexually abused her when she was a student at the prep school.

Sapienza served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives representing District 8, Rockingham, for four terms — from 1997 to 2002, and again from 2010 to 2012.

Reached by phone Sunday night, Sapienza confirmed the filing of the lawsuit but would not comment further.

According to paperwork filed with the U.S. District Court in Boston on Friday, the lawsuit reads: “As a direct and proximate result of defendant Alexander Theroux’s negligent conduct, the plaintiff suffered and will continue to suffer in the future: severe and permanent mental distress and emotional injuries, including objective corroboration of said mental distress and emotional injuries as outlined above; financial expenses for medical and therapeutic care and treatment; long-term lost earning capacity; as well as other damages.”

In the lawsuit, Sapienza alleges on one occasion in approximately 1982, when she was approximately 15, that Theroux engaged in “explicit sexual behavior and lewd and lascivious conduct” with her at his Andover, Mass. residence.

According to court documents, Sapienza claims that after the sexual assault Theroux called her at her home and requested that she enroll in Theroux’s class, promising her a “good grade.” The lawsuit also claims that when Sapienza told Phillips Academy school officials about the alleged sexual abuse, they did nothing about it, because he was no longer employed there at the time.

Sapienza voluntarily left Phillips Academy in approximately 1984.

A report released by Phillips Academy officials in 2016 investigation detailed five cases of sexual misconduct between teachers and students in the 1970s and 80s, including a claim against Theroux.

Similar allegations have also been brought against New Hampshire’s Phillips Exeter Academy. Last month, officials revealed the names of four additional former teachers and a school psychologist who they believe engaged in sexual misconduct against students decades ago.

The investigation was launched a year ago after the school publicly disclosed that former history teacher Rick Schubart had admitted to sexual misconduct involving two students in the 1970s and 1980s.

CORRECTION: A headline on an earlier version of this story incorrectly said Phillips Academy was the target of the lawsuit.