Thursday, October 15, 2009

Day Thirty-eight

Okay, so I preached a little bit yesterday. I do that sometimes, please forgive me. Just ask my middle sister. :)

Also, please don't be offended if I suggested that you think I'm weak and victimized by responding to me about healing and all that stuff. I really do appreciate all the feedback I'm getting, the support I'm receiving and the comments I reading. Please keep writing. It really helps me to continue. I received some more information today about Theo Fluery. I will post that in a separate post. It's very interesting. Also, I received several other comments and messages that I believe are worthy to note. I will also respond to those is a separate post. But for now, I shall continue with my story.

On November 1, 2003, the day after I went to see the attorney's, I sent the following email to the ASIJ administrator. Some of the information you will have already read as I repeated it in this letter.

"It has been a week and a half since I have spoken to you. I promised you that I would keep you updated about our endeavors to stop Jack from sexually abusing any more children. This letter by nature will be extensive. You will receive it both by email as well as through the US Postal service. That way there won't be any questions as to whether or not you have received it." (Remember - I had a legitimate reason to be concerned that my letter would not be responded to, so I made sure he knew that it was coming and I had methods to make sure he got it.)

"When we spoke last, I sensed in you a sincere desire in helping us make sure this never happens again. I also am completely aware of your responsibility to protect the school. It is in that vain that I write this letter, hoping that you will encourage those around you to support our efforts to not only protect other children who are presently in contact with him, but also ASIJ students, present and future, from any kind of abuse because of the lack of or ignorance of school policy." (I want to remind you that in 2003 Jack was "running" a program designed for Middle School students in Japan.) "One thing that this kind of circumstance provides is a positive reason to go forward and make children aware of the dangers out there and how to respond to those situations."

"I'm first going to share with you the information I have gathered. You probably have much of it already as the school records would correspond with this information. I might repeat some things that you already have heard or read from me, however, I'd like to have it all in writing in the same place, so please bear with the repetitiveness of this information. In our endeavors thus far, we have contacted no more than 20 people. Of those 20 people we have identified four students who were actual victims of his sexual abuse and several more who either put him off or were eye witnesses to others being molested. The statistics of this are staggering. We have not even tipped the iceberg. As you can tell by our progress, we are talking each step very carefully and methodically. In addition, we have contacted several faculty members who have suspected such activity was going on but had not personally witnessed anything. We are also waiting to hear back from several people we suspect were abused by him. 
During 1970-1973, I frequently visited Miyake-jima. I turned 11 in February of 1970. In addition, I worked with Jack at his home in the mornings before school, helping him run his dogs on the golf course. It was during this period that the sexual abuse occurred to me. Beginning in 1973 another student was sexually abused and her abuse lasted until 1975. She was 13 years old when it started. She and I attended Miyake together during Spring Break of 1973. She reminded me of this event, as I thought my last time out to Miyake was in 1972. I did not know at the time that she was being abused by him. She wrote Jack a letter in 1975 telling him to stop abusing her and to stay away from her. She then informed the school through a written letter in 1982 or 1983. She said she thought that Jack was then asked to leave the school. In 1977 another girl was sexually molested by Jack.  She was 16. She reported this behavior to her parents who in turn spoke with the school. They were told that the school would handle it. This student was forced to continue to attend a school where a teacher not only molested her but the administration did nothing and her friend and those around her told her that she was making too big of a deal about it. Several people have told us that they were able to ward off any abuse from him but it took much effort. Others speak of his uncomfortable touching and their feelings that they suspected he was up to something but they never knew exactly what. His behavior also was very harsh and emotionally hard for those students who were not the "chosen". He often shunned or ignored students that seemed to get in the way of his agenda. I spoke with one student that remembers being at Miyake with the girl who was abused in 1973-1975. She speaks of his horrible behavior toward her. He treated her unkindly, made her feel unwelcome and even asked her friend. "Why did she have to come along?" in her presence. This person remember being at Miyake alone with just him and two girls. Apparently, her presence made it more difficult for him to have access to the other young girl. The farm at Miyake had three "sleeping" tatami rooms. They were all connected and had only sliding doors to separate the sleeping quarters. When I was there, the boys slept in one side, the girls in the other side and Jack slept in the middle room, supposedly protecting us from each other. He would then select one female to sleep next to him in the middle room. While I attended Miyake I was the "chosen" one. He then waited until the middle of the night to make his visits. One former student who attended Miyake regularly wrote the following:

"Another time, again, early high school, we were all there. Fourteen girls and Jack the pedophile. It was hot, it was summer and Jack  slept in the middle and all us (sic) girls had our futons around him. I'm sure none of us slept with blankets. I'm sure all of us had legs, thighs, and God knows what else exposed during those hot summer nights. I woke up in the middle of the night once and sat up deciding whether to go to the bathroom or not. I saw Jack with his had groping up and down one of the girls legs, I don't know whose it was but I think it was XXXXX. I don't know whether she was awake or not, or whether she knew or not. I gasped, he heard the noise and looked in my direction, again with the deer in the headlights look. We didn't exchange a single word. I lay back down and thanked my lucky stars my futon was on the exterior."

This account was not of me but of another student. But I can assure you that she was not asleep. In this same letter she described several girls walking in on Jack and me. It is an explicit eye witness account of his sexual abuse of me. The humiliation that I have experienced as a result of this does not even come close to the serious disappointment I have in the school in their handling of each one of these cases individually as well as corporately. As I have explained previously, in 1990 the ASIJ '70's decade had a reunion in Long Beach, California. Part of the reunion celebrated the favorite faculty member whom we all found to be most influential in our lives.  Jack tied with another teacher as the "favorite teacher" of the '70's decade. When I informed the reunion committee about my experience with him I told them that if they announced him as the winner of the award, then I would bring my story out. The problem was that they had already informed both teachers of their nominations. They then had to retract the award from Jack and although I wasn't told about the circumstances I feel certain that the school was informed and involved in this process. (We later found out that the committee shared it with the then headmaster Mr. Downs.)

Again, in 2000 after receiving the solicitation letter from another alumnus, asking for money to help Jack because of the devastation of Miyake due to the volcano erupting, I formally contacted the school via the then present headmaster, Mr. Cooper. He did not respond to my letter causing me to again correspond with him requesting confirmation that my letter arrived in his office and to make sure he had received it. I finally received confirmation that my letter indeed was received and that the board was going to meet after this and determine their next course of action. I was never informed about their actions.

Later on , in 2001, through the '70's yahoo web site, our former headmaster's wife (Vicky Downs) sent out a request asking anyone to recall their memories they had at Miyake for the book The American School in Japan: A History of our First Century. She received several responses from different students and then suddenly her contacts with us stopped. I sent her an email letting her know that I didn't have a problem with her contacting people about Miyake, because I felt that there was a part of Miyake that was good and memorable for many people. Not everyone there had been subjected to his abuse and the program was a wonderful part of ASIJ's history. In my letter to her, I told her that I felt like she had stopped talking with us because of her fear of what might come out because of my previous letter to the school. I told her not to be concerned with me because I had no intention of hurting the school or anyone else. However, I must not have made it clear to her that aggrandizing him in the book would be a horribly cruel thing to do to those of us who have been quietly sitting back living with the pain and distress of our own private memories. She also did not respond to my letter. I am still truly baffled.

Based upon information I have been able to gather, the program on Miyake continued until the eruption of the volcano on July 14, 2000, despite these and possibly more accounts of students reporting to the school about his sexual abuse towards them. Several articles mention his involvement with ASIJ students and one article even states that in the year 2000, it was the 31st consecutive year that middle school students from ASIJ attended the Miyake program. Words can not even describe the horror of knowing that the school continued to support the program of a known pedophile. As more and more information begins to surface my humiliation and insecurity of my experience has diminished. However, my resolve coupled with anger and disgust has made me even more determined.

Most recently, in June of 2003, at the centennial celebration in San Francisco, I was reconnected with Michele Connor, who visited Miyake frequently during her junior high and high school years. Michele holds a very special place in my heart because when no one else could help me, not my parents, not teachers, not any others adults, she was willing to protect me from this sexual predator and because of her, his abuse against me stopped. Unfortunately, for the next person it just started.

The details of all of this are explicit. I have so much more I could share but don't feel it is necessary at this junction. I'd like to press forward to a resolution to this dilemma I feel we both are in.

Michele Connor has some suggestions as to how she feels the school should be involved in this. I also have some ideas and would like to discuss them with you. We have not yet determined the best course of actions with regard to Jack.

As I mentioned in my last letter, I have met with attorney's here to get advice from them how best to proceed in this manner. My sole desire is to make sure there are not any other students sexually abused by him. We may contact the American Embassy. The attorneys suggested the FBI and possibly the local authorities. How we go about getting him away from other children remains to be seem.

ASIJ, up to this point has failed miserably in their responsibility regarding this situation. Several administrations have had multiple opportunities to rise up and do the right thing. Unfortunately, for you and me, they chose to take the cowardly way and ignore it, hoping it would go away. But it was just a matter of time that this would hit. Those responsible for this bear the guilt of other girls who were subjected to his sexual abuse because of their lack of integrity and lack of courage to stop this when they first found out about it.

I realize the implications for the school with regard to all of this. If any students were abused after the school received multiple warnings, the school might be held responsible. If you will now take a proactive approach to this, I believe you will not only protect the school from possible litigation from others, but more importantly you would be doing the righ thing.

We are going forward. I hope you will go forward with us. I will be waiting to hear from you.


Janet Simmons"

So, how does it feel to re-read the story a second time? Doesn't it just amaze you that so much information was relayed to the school and nothing was done? Does it continue to baffle you like it does me? Do you see now how insidious this kind of behavior is? This evidently is common amongst people who don't want to upset the apple cart.

As I posted previously, I have lost a lot of the communications I had because of computer crashes and theft. However, I am waiting to get some more information from Michele that she kept. So, hopefully, I can fill in the gaps. Until then, I will go forward with then information I can remember and the limited correspondence I saved in the dreaded file.

I recall corresponding with ASIJ trying to contact Jack.

They refused to provide his address.

Through several negotiations they agreed to deliver a letter personally addressed to him sent via ASIJ. That is the next communication I have.

My letter to Jack was dated November 13, 2003.

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