Prep school abuse case makes its way into US Senate race

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 4:24 PM

S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte and Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, whose husband is a former principal of the school.

Prep school abuse case makes its way into US Senate race

Investigations into sexual misconduct by faculty at a renowned NH prep school have found their way into the state'south high-profile U. S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte and Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, whose husband is a former principal of the school.

News broke in late March that a instructor at Phillips Exeter School was forced to resign in two thousand-eleventh and later stripped of his emeritus status after admitting to two past instances of sexual misconduct with students — information that wasn't disclosed publicly below the tenure of Hassan'south husband, Thomas Hassan.

Maggie Hassan accepted money from Rick Schubart and listed him as a public supporter of her two thousand twelve gubernatorial campaign even after he left the school, a fact Republicans immediately seized on as proof of poor judgment.

She'south since apologized and donated $1.000 to a local organization dealing with domestic and sexual violence, but the legend hasn't stopped there. Police are presently looking into four extra allegations of abuse by other faculty, including a current teacher, and Phillips Exeter is conducting its own investigation into how Schubart'south case was handled.

Thomas Hassan has been formally censured by an international boarding school organization for not disclosing Schubart'south wrongdoing before the former instructor was given an award in 2012.

Republicans are hoping the issue will adhere to Maggie Hassan, who'south had number major missteps in her campaign so far, as more information trickles out.

"The people of New Hampshire, particularly the victims and their families, deserve to know what Maggie Hassan knew about Schubart'south actions, and when," said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Alleigh Marre.

Democrats, meanwhile, declare Republican attempts to tie Hassan to the scandal are misguided.

"This isn't something that'south going to be a enormous watershed moment in the race, much to the Republicans' dismay," said Lauren Passalacqua, national press secretary for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Linda Fowler, a Prof of government at Dartmouth College, said that with what'south arrive out so far, the issue is unlikely to damage Hassan in November.

"It'south tough for me to imagine arrive fall that this legend is going to have any legs," she said.

Ayotte, a former prosecutor, should walk a fine line between highlighting the issue without appearing to exploit it. She continues to declare questions necessity to be answered about how the school handled the case, but in an interview with NH Public Radio, she didn't make clear what specific questions are outstanding.

So distant in the Senate race, it'south been Ayotte on the defensive. Democrats are whacking her for her opposition to holding hearings on President Barack Obama'south Supreme Ct nominee and she'south taking hits in her own party, facing a primary challenge from the right and bracing for the opportunity that Donald Trump will be the GOP'south presidential nominee.

"Everything has been breaking against the Republicans in terms of the overall environment," said Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the state Republican party.

But longtime political observers doubt whether the Phillips Exeter case will damage Hassan, despite her husband's involvement.

Judy Reardon, a former top aide to Democratic U. S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, said voters are able to separate a candidate from the actions of his or her spouse.

"It'south tough for me to imagine the person who'd otherwise vote for Maggie Hassan saying, 'Well, I don't know, her husband didn't exercise excellent judgment, I think I'll vote for Kelly Ayotte,'" she said.

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