The action on July 14th by the New Hampshire Attorney General to open a criminal investigation into the St. Paul’s School as it relates to the sexual abuse scandal that recently came to light, is nothing short of unprecedented. In every single case of sexual abuse at a private school or even a public school for that matter, the criminal focus is always on the perpetrator and not on the institutional policy that permitted the sexual abuse to occur. With a couple of very isolated exceptions, this is also true in the context of all other large institutions of trust like churches and youth organizations. Read Paul’s comments in NY Times about this unprecedented decision by the NH Attorney General. http://nyti.ms/2gLu2t6
The Brearley School, a prestigious private girls school in NYC is now the latest private school to admit it had a problem with the sexual abuse of its students. Nancy Kestenbaum, the attorney who recently completed the Choate sexual abuse investigation will now focus her efforts on Brearley. The NYT quotes the school as saying, "We have recently been made aware of possible sexual misconduct, not related to current faculty or staff, which occurred in the distant past,” school officials said in an email sent to alumnae, staff members and families of current students. “Regardless of the time that has elapsed, it is our absolute responsibility to care for all of our alumnae and to do all that we can to cultivate an environment at Brearley in which all of our students — past, present and future- feel safe and secure." Despite its expression of seeming care for the victims, by leading with the phrase that the allegations were from the "distant past", the school reveals a callousness for the pain and suffering of its student victims - for whom - like all victims of sexual abuse - there is definitely no distant past. And as Ms. Kestenbaum found at Choate (and as litigation has proven in almost every single case against a private school and boarding school), it will not be surprising if this investigation reveals that faculty and administration knew of the sexual abuse but failed to act to protect the students. How the school treats its former student victims once the investigation is concluded will also be revealing. Will Brearley hide behind the unforgiving NY statute of limitations or will the school compensate these victims for their devastating injuries? We shall see. http://nyti.ms/2pK8EUW
Choate, one of the most prestigious private schools in the US which counts among its alumni President Kennedy and Edward Albee, is the latest in a string of elite private schools, including St. George’s School, Taft School, Thayer Academy and Concord Academy to now bare its institutional soul and publicly admit its shameful history of the sexual abuse of its students. An investigation commissioned by the Choate (http://bit.ly/2nKOPQk) demonstrates that Choate turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse of its students for decades. The investigation reveals detailed accounts by 24 survivors, but as we know the numbers of actual victims is much, much higher. Even with all the publicity this report will engender, most victims will, out of fear, embarrassment and confusion stay silent. The report makes clear what we have seen in public schools, in the Boy Scouts and in the Catholic Church when a complaint was made against a Choate teacher, that teacher was allowed to quietly resign. And in some cases teachers went to work at another school. As the Choate investigation found, when sexual abuse of students was revealed such matters were, “handled internally and quietly.” There is no other way to say it: Choate put its institutional reputation above the best interests of its students. As I commented to the New York Times, because private schools like Choate “are closed systems where kids are separated from their parents,” it increases the opportunities for teachers to sexually abuse students. http://nyti.ms/2pcM3n8
The sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, private schools and public schools has dominated our national dialogue, but now thanks to terrific reporting by the Indianapolis Star, the nation knows that gymnastics programs throughout the United States also are plagued sexual abuse (http://indy.st/2hSwA4k). The problem extends from the sexual abuse of young girls training to be Olympians to kids who participate in neighborhood programs. The Indianapolis Star expose is a sober reminder that adults in position of trust and authority can use their power to exploit children in almost any venue and we must be ever vigilant to protect children from this kind of harm.
Former Scoutmaster Eugene Perrault of Newfields, New Hampshire was arrested this past week for the alleged sexual abuse of a Boy Scout in the 1990's. According to the Manchester Union Leader, the police are also investigating whether there are other alleged Boy Scout victims. To read the entire article go to: http://bit.ly/2eKaDnf.
An assistant wrestling coach, Matthew Michael Bautista, from North High School in Torrance, California has been arrested for having sexual relations with a 16 year old student. The alleged abuse occurred during 2016. Read the entire news story at http://bit.ly/2eR6oa6.
Last week according to a story in the Poughkeepsie Journal, Michael Kelsey, a Scoutmaster and former Dutchess County, New York legislator, was sentenced to 7 years in prison for sexually abusing two teenage boys in his troop in 2014 (http://pojonews.co/2f1eikP). In May 2016, a jury found Kelsey guilty of first-degree sexual abuse and first-degree attempted sexual abuse. In their victim impact statements, which are available at http://bit.ly/2eCGF6m, these two brave young survivors made clear in starkly honest and poignant terms the devastating psychological and emotional impact that Kelsey’s sexual abuse had on them. For anyone concerned about the plight of victims of Boy Scout sexual abuse or for that matter the effect of sexual abuse on any young person, these victims’ impact statements should be required reading.
The Olympic flame for the 2016 games has long been extinguished, but allegations of sexual abuse once again has the attention focused on the USA Gymnastics team. A team doctor, already facing two allegations of sexual abuse, now faces 16 additional complaints.
The 2016 Summer Olympics have dominated news coverage the last few weeks and will continue to do so as athletes return home to celebrate their accomplishments. The sacrifices Olympians make to reach the ultimate goal of winning a gold medal is well-documented by the media. Rarely talked about is the sexual abuse these athletes sometimes face.
Sexual abuse can be an issue in any industry or area of life, but one of the most devastating places where it can occur is at the doctor’s office. A recent investigation at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed sexual abuse within the medical community is common and could rival the abuse that occurred within the Catholic Church.
One of the former presidents of Chaminade High School, a prestigious Catholic school in Long Island, New York, was recently suspended after an investigation revealed allegations of sexual abuse made against him in 2015 are credible. The accusations against Father James Williams, who continues to deny the allegations, were investigated by the Society of Mary and found to be credible, leading to his dismissal.
In response to lawsuits filed by victims’ families alleging sexual abuse of 30 children in two different elementary schools, the Los Angeles Unified School District has agreed to pay $88 million in settlement, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire is the latest elite preparatory school to be forced to deal with the aftermath of sexual abuse allegations against its teachers and staff. The school announced in mid-April that is was firing a second teacher after he reported inappropriate relations with students that occurred decades ago.
Recently, a Louisville man filed a lawsuit claiming he was sexually abused by his scoutmaster in the 970s when he was a member of the Boy Scouts of America. The man, known only by his initials, filed a lawsuit in Jefferson Circuit Court, claiming Timothy Fleming, former leader of Troop 364, committed several acts of sexual abuse that occurred during out of town trips, at a church, and at the scout leader’s home.
According to news reports a former teacher at the Pingry School, an elite preparatory school in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, is under investigation for sexual abuse of students that allegedly occurred throughout the 1970s. Accusations of the abuse were made by alumni from the school. Officials from the school contacted law enforcement in response to the allegations and the school has agreed to assist with the investigation, in addition to hiring its own independent investigators to address the issue. (Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/pingry-school-investigates-sex-abuse-allegations-against-ex-teacher-thad-n547731)
According to news reports, a recent grand jury report addressed rampant abuse in the Altoona-Johnstown-Pennsylvania Diocese of the Catholic Church. The community is still in shock as it considers the ramifications of the abuse that occurred over the years. According to the report, two Roman Catholic bishops who led the Pennsylvania diocese assisted in the cover up of the sexual abuse of hundreds of children by more than 50 priests and other religious leaders during a 40-year period.
In the 2010 trial of Lewis v. Boy Scouts of America, my co-counsel Kelly Clark and I exposed the very serious and long-standing problem of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts of America. The case also resulted in a 19.9 million dollar verdict against the Boy Scouts.
The YMCA is known for providing services within the community and helping children and families from all walks of life learn, grow, and participate in physical fitness. Though the majority of YMCA volunteers and employees serve the children in a nurturing and professional manner, some have taken advantage of their position of trust and authority and sexually abused the children participating in the YMCA programs, This exploitation is similar to what has happened in the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Club and similar institutions of trust.
The movie Spotlight recently received significant and well-deserved accolades during this year’s Academy Awards, winning Best Picture of the Year and exposing many people to the epidemic of sexual abuse, not only in the Catholic Church, but in a variety of institutions and organizations.