When you spend close to $65,000 per year to send your child to school, the very least you should expect is that your child is safe. A shocking disclosure by the Thacher School in Ojai admitted that this was not the case at all, and had not been for decades.
Per the Los Angeles Times, attorneys for the Ojai boarding school “laid out episodes of alleged rape, groping, unwanted touching and inappropriate comments dating back 40 years….[and] identified six alleged perpetrators by name and recounted in lengthy passages the accusations of misconduct — and alleged efforts by former school administrators to cover up complaints and blame teenage victims.”
The report was compiled after alumni of the school started a social media campaign with the handle @rpecultureatthacher. More than 120 students, parents, and faculty members – current and former – were interviewed, though no charges have been filed as of yet.
One of the most horrific ordeals described by the report focused on a former student who, in the 1980s, “accused her high school English teacher of repeatedly raping her, starting when she was 16. The school did not call police, but dispatched a male assistant headmaster who reportedly asked the girl if she ‘enjoyed’ the sex.”
What is Thacher School doing about the report?
What every other school rife with rape and sexual abuse claims does: claiming it will take “corrective actions” to stop future abuses. Per the Times,
The school said it would establish a “comprehensive protocol” for adult-on-student sexual misconduct reports that would include bringing in a third-party investigator and a response team trained in addressing such allegations; it will adopt policies to inform the school community and other institutions regarding outgoing employees; and it will “strengthen” restrictions on hiring individuals with a reported history of sexual misconduct.
As attorneys who have fought on behalf of child sex abuse victims for years, we have our reservations. Taylor & Ring has successfully sued the same school districts over and over again for failing to protect their students, and they always say they will take “corrective actions.” If those actions worked, they wouldn’t need to keep issuing statements about them, and we wouldn’t keep filing successful lawsuits against them for failing their students.
Ojai needs to take a look at its private schools
Ojai has a considerable number of private schools, given its small size. It may seem “safe” to some that only one school has had sexual abuse scandals surface in the last couple of years (as compared to say, LAUSD, which has had multiple scandals for years), but the extent of the abuse and sexual assault at Thacher School worries us for many, many reasons. First and foremost, we are concerned at the sheer number of students who came forward, as the majority of victims never come forward. This leads us to believe there could be significant numbers of victims who did not speak with investigators about the abuse or assault they endured.
Second, we are concerned with how often acts of sexual abuse and assault are being committed against children and teens in other Ojai schools, especially schools with expensive price tags. A 2016 Boston Globe investigation turned up hundreds of victims in 67 different elite and private schools throughout New England. To say that it cannot or is not happening here is to ignore every red flag we know.
Finally, we are enraged that it took a social media campaign for Thacher School to finally investigate allegations of rape and abuse. The hypocrisy and entitlement of the Board and school officials to think that they could repeatedly sweep allegations of rape and assault under the rug, and feel confident that they would ultimately face no backlash, is beyond comprehension. These victims were children. Sexual assault is never acceptable no matter the age of the victim, but it takes a special kind of monster to rape a child, and a special kind of monster to ask if the child “enjoyed” it.
Taylor & Ring fights against abuse in Ojai schools
Whether you were a student at Thacher or another boarding school, or attended any of the schools in the Ojai Unified School District, you are entitled to justice. Taylor & Ring is a leader in fighting for justice for childhood victims of sexual assault, and we stop at nothing to hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions. We have secured more than $100 million in verdicts and settlements against school districts throughout California on behalf of our clients, and we can help you, too.
If you or your child was sexually assault, abused, or raped by any employee of the Thacher School or any school in Ojai, we are your advocates. We provide a safe and healthy environment in which to tell your story, and we will treat you as we treat all of our clients: with dignity, compassion, and grace. You do not have to go through this alone.
To speak with an attorney from Taylor & Ring, please call 310-776-6390 or fill out our contact form, and schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. Let us fight for you the way we have fought for survivors all of California.
David Ring is a nationally renowned plaintiff’s personal injury trial attorney and has obtained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of seriously-injured individuals or families who have lost a loved one in a tragic accident. For more than 20 years, he has represented victims of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, assault, molestation and sexual misconduct in cases against a variety of employers and entities, including schools, churches and youth organizations.
He prides himself on providing aggressive, yet compassionate representation for children who have been sexually abused and women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. Read more about David M. Ring.