In a 91-page report, the private co-educational boarding school in Ojai details sexual assault and harassment against students dating back to the 1980s.
According to a report released by the school, several faculty members at the private, co-collaborative Thatcher School in California sexually abused and harassed students or engaged in inappropriate relationships with them, with detailed allegations that go back to the 1980s .
In a disturbing case, a teacher allegedly raped a 16-year-old girl student, then abused her for at least a year. Other students and parents described inappropriate touching by a headmaster.
In another case, a former student told investigators that she and her roommate reported that two male students sexually assaulted her in their room at a boarding school in the 1990s, the report said.
91 page report, released Wednesday, said students told investigators that their complaints were met with indifference and shame by administrators at the college preparatory school for classes nine to 12 in Ojai, a town of about 7,400 in Ventura County.
The school’s board of trustees launched an investigation after the school said it received reports of sexual misconduct in the summer of 2020.
The report, which was produced by Tols & Olson of the law firm Munger, Los Angeles, was graphic at times detailing the mistreatment the former students said. It said the findings were based on interviews with 120 former Thatcher students, parents and current and former faculty members, staff members, administrators and board members.
School head Blossom Bt Pidak apologizes to students and alumni A letter that was posted on the school’s website with the report.
“I am deeply sorry for the ways – your school – failed you, and for the hurt and loss that failure has inflicted,” she wrote. “While these failures should never have happened, they can now become our profound teachers, helping us to see clearly so that we can take action to create a community where all students are safe and nurtured.”
The law firm’s findings echoed allegations that have rocked other prep schools across the country over the past decade.
In 2016, at least eight schools in New England, including St. George’s School in Rhode Island and Taft School in Connecticut, said they were investigating cases of misconduct, According to the Boston Globe. Paul’s School in Concord, NH, was described as a “shelter for sexual predators” in a lawsuit filed in 2018.
In 2013, the Horace Mann School in New York reached a settlement worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with alumni who said they were sexually abused by staff members from the 1970s to the 1990s.
Dan Yih, chairman of the Thatcher Board of Trustees, said the report “clarifies” that the board, faculty and administrators failed to protect students at the school.
“We have learned a great deal about our history over the past several months – many of which have been difficult to cope with,” he wrote.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office received a copy of the report from the school on Wednesday, and investigators are reviewing the allegations, said Capt. Eric Bushow, a spokesman for the department.
“They have evaluated each incident to see if it is a crime and whether it is within the statute and to see if an investigation can even be conducted at this point,” he said.
The report names six former faculty members, including an English teacher, who said a 16-year-old sophomore was sexually assaulted just before going on a camping trip at the start of the school year.
The former student said in the report that after the attack, “I bled for a whole week.”
“I was alone in the woods with my classmates without any rest or support,” she said.
The teacher continued to abuse her and sexually assault her for the rest of her year and her junior year, she said. He became violent, she said, once throwing her across a room so hard that she fainted.
“For me, there was no escape,” she said, according to the report.
When she spoke to the assistant headmaster about the sexual abuse, she said he pressured her for “specific details” and asked her if she “enjoyed” it, the report said.
The report also mentions a former student who said she and her roommate were sexually assaulted by two male students in the 1990s when she was a senior.
The former student told investigators that the boys came to their room while sleeping and forced them to have sex even after the girls repeatedly refused and asked them to leave.
When the girls complained, Michael Mulligan, the head of the school at the time, reportedly told them, “They didn’t have a leg to stand on because they didn’t do enough to stop the boys,” according to the report.
Mr Mulligan, who was interviewed by the firm’s lawyers, said in the report that he remembered meeting with the students, but none of them said he had been sexually assaulted.
In an open letter to the school on 12 June, Mr Mulligan said he was “heartbroken” by the “experiences” many former students have described.
“I am particularly sorry for the circumstances where certain decisions contributed to this suffering, and I fully accept that criticism,” he wrote in the letter. “I really sorry.”
The report includes accounts from other students and parents who described a headmaster who frequently got drunk and touched girls on their thighs and buttocks.
Reportedly, on a camping trip, the headmaster, who died in 2014, “would encourage female students to do bikini shows for boys.”
Reportedly, some faculty members resigned or were fired after the allegations surfaced.
Reportedly, a former college counselor who was fired in 1997 after groping a student went on to work at other prep schools. Law firm investigators reached out to the counselor to inquire about him and allegations of sexual misconduct with other female students.
He declined to be interviewed, but in an email to investigators he said he was “rightfully fired” and had felt “deeply ashamed and sorry” ever since.
He wrote, “I’ve been married for over 22 years, have a daughter in college, and now live in a quiet, simple retirement, where the garden or walk is usually the most exciting part of my days.” “that is enough.”
Mr. Yeh encouraged students and alumni to come forward with the allegations.
“We believe that the pain and trauma that remains are real and long lasting,” he wrote.