Ex-prep school student accused of 1970s campus sex assaults
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A Virginia man has been accused of sexually assaulting two children on the campus of St. Paul’s School while he was a student at the New Hampshire prep school in the 1970s and after he graduated.
Benjamin Baker, 61, of Falls Church, Virginia, was arrested Monday and charged with being a fugitive after Concord police issued a warrant charging him with a dozen sex crimes, including one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault and five counts each of felonious sexual assault and deviate sexual relations, the Concord Monitor reported.
Lt. Sean Ford said Baker graduated from St. Paul’s in 1974, and the assaults occurred throughout the 1970s. He said Baker committed the crimes while a student and then would frequently come back to visit campus. A member of the victims’ family worked for the school, Ford told the Monitor.
Ford said Concord detectives traveled to Virginia to corroborate the victims’ stories and uncovered “very disturbing behaviors allegedly perpetrated by Mr. Baker against young victims.”
The case wasn’t reported to the school or law enforcement at the time. Under New Hampshire law, minors who were sexually assaulted by an adult have until age 40 to pursue criminal charges and until age 30 to file a civil lawsuit, but the clock stops running if the offender leaves the state.
Baker is expected to appear in court in Virginia on Tuesday. A court official in Virginia had no information Monday about whether Baker has an attorney.
In 2017, St. Paul’s requested an independent investigation into campus sexual misconduct after Howard White, who taught there from 1967 to 1971, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting students from St. George’s School in Rhode Island in 1973. In a series of reports, investigators said they have substantiated abuse claims against 20 former faculty and staff members dating back decades. The list includes former teachers, administrators, chaplains and a counselor accused of a range of misconduct from inappropriate touching and forced kissing to one teacher accused of taking students on several trips to New York City to have sex with prostitutes.
Investigators also found evidence that the school failed to protect students at the time or fully investigate their complaints. Several of the accused were fired, but most were quietly “moved on” with letters of recommendations for their next jobs, according to the Boston law firm Casner & Edwards. A separate investigation by the state attorney general’s office found evidence of criminal wrongdoing, but an agreement was reached to put the school under government oversight instead of bringing charges.
Since the allegations were brought to light, the school has embarked on a series of reforms aimed at preventing abuse, support victims and encouraging the reporting of any wrong doing.