Sunday, October 11, 2009

Day Thirty-four - Insidious

There must be a lot of little old ladies living under the street here on Dauphin Island. I just took a early morning ride down to the west end and there were thousands of lights turning on next to the bike path as I rode by. One thing I can’t understand is that when I was driving one way they were red and the opposite way the were white. I guess they have two different buttons to push. No, my hair is no longer blonde - I’m going gray!!

“Police still don’t want to deal with rape cases and prosecutors aren’t keen to go ahead with them because neither think rape is that serious a crime.” Lawyer Yukiko Tsunoda, criticizing Japan’s lax laws on rape

So if I’m reading this correctly, ASIJ knew at least as early as 1977 - possibly before but at least by then. They again received a formal letter in the early 1980’s. And they did nothing? I’m really baffled and confused by this. They allowed the reunion committee to send out “favorite teacher” nominations and didn’t think something might happen with that? Again, at least a third confirmation. But still they let students go to his farm? Then they didn’t attempt to do anything about the request in 2000 until I sent them a formal, registered letter. Then they chose not to communicate with me? Do I sense a pattern here? [Editors note:  In 2015 we found out that the school was first informed in 1968.]

So, to answer my previous emailer, NO, I’m not worried about the implication my blog has on the school. How can I? You are right to say that the administration now isn’t the same as it was then. You are right that this could possibly hurt the school - I doubt it will. ASIJ is an excellent school and I wouldn’t hesitate to put my children in it right now. But previous administrations, particularly those in the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s really should have to answer to this.

I found two interesting things in the “dreaded” file . Now, I really know why I labeled it the “dreaded” file.

One is an article from the “Big 6 at the American School in Japan”, dated Winter 2000. “The highlight of seventh grade science is a week -long springtime study trip to the island of Miyake, Japan. The island of Miyake, or Miyake-jima, is located in the Sea of Japan 200 miles south of Tokyo. Twenty-eight students at a time, plus five teachers, experience the natural wonders of Miyake each week until all 110 seventh grade students have had a chance to see Miyake. Miyake is an active volcano and the home of a world renowned marine biology study center (and resident marine biologist-guru, Jack Moyer, listed in the 1999 Marquis’ Who’s Who in the World). Before our student scientists embark on this journey, they conduct several weeks of research throughout the year on the local land forms and sea life, as well as the many colorful birds of the island. This year will be the 31st consecutive year that ASIJ Middle School students have studied the delicate ecosystem on Miyake. “

The next is an excerpt from the book written for and distributed during the centennial celebration in San Fran. Pages 180 and 181. “Meanwhile, Mr. Moyer expanded his program to include even more weekend trips for junior high students and was happy to take along (name of person), who recently emailed, “One of my first weekends in Japan was a trip to a small fishing village with one of Mr. Moyer’s groups. The photographs and memories of that trip remain treasures. I think all those trips that we organized for the students are probably more valuable than most of our class work.” Jack also enlarged a summer program for high school students to live on Miyake Island and teach English. As he was quoted in the Hanabi, “The program gives students a view of typical Japanese life and how Japan looks with a minimum of Western influence.” Then on page 225 - “Relationships between teachers and students seemed to thrive, particularly when the curriculum included off-campus adventures.” Page 226 - “(Name of another teacher) who taught science from 1968-1974, was one of the earliest supporters of what came to be known as Jack Moyer's Miyake Program. This program, arranged for seventh graders, consisted of a week-long stay on Miyake Island to study the flora and fauna of the area and to encounter local people. It made great use of Jack's own property on the island and his long association with the inhabitants there………. One student remembers her seventh grade year clearly: Mr. Moyer was my favorite teacher ever. I liked science because of him. I stuck with science all through high school. In college I thought I’d be a marine biologist until I realized science wasn’t for me. I fell in love with Mr. Moyer's enthusiasm. He was so excited about marine biology. A few of us went to Miyake with him five or six times on weekends, over the next two years. He had us scuba diving and following particular fish. We’d follow them and write down what they did, and which fish they interacted with. Mr. Moyer treated us like adults. “

The book goes on to say on page 227 - “Clearly the school had rich experiences and a fair amount of freedom to offer students. But two concerns continued to cause ASIJ and parents to clamp down rules, even into the seventies. (Editors note: you would think maybe here reference would be made to protecting the students who were being molested by Mr. Moyer.  But no, read on.) One was the physical appearance of the student body, which the school felt was bad for business. A group of parents went so far as to discuss the idea of school uniforms with people at the Isetan Department store. Some faculty and staff may remember seeing designs of red and blue outfits, complete with bell bottom slacks for the boys and short skirts and vests for the girls, being trotted out at a PTA meeting.”

I don’t know what the second concern was because it’s on the next page and I don’t have a copy of the book. This book was published after Mrs. Downs (former headmaster Mr. Downs' wife) sent out an email requesting memories to be sent to her. I wrote her and told her that I understood that if she wanted to write about good memories of Miyake to please do so, that I wouldn’t taint any other person’s memories of that, however, she needed to be aware of the other side of the story. The emails stopped circulating and I never heard from her again, until after everything came out in the open in 2003. She wrote me then and asked me to share with her this story I am now sharing with you. I told her that I couldn’t do that. Maybe she’s reading my blog.

I’m going through the emails that started rolling in during the month of October ‘03. As they began coming in, my husband was seeking help from an attorney friend of ours who put me in touch with the attorneys who represented the men who were molested by the priests in the Catholic Church. As many of you may already know, Baton Rouge and Louisiana as a state is predominantly Catholic in faith. The group of attorneys who handled some of the cases of the priests were from Baton Rouge. I scheduled an appointment with them on October 31, 2003.

In the meantime, my oldest sister also began corresponding with different people from her grade. She graduated in 1970. She received a response from several people.

One person who spent some time at Miyake later after high school doing some research replied that he had come on to her so strong that even after she returned to the states he continued calling her. She replied, “I guess there is residual guilt about the fact that I did not do anything pro-active at the time to reveal at least what I suspected about what I had come to believe happened to other, younger girls - so that is why your e-mail spawned so much emotion for me. When I said something to my sister about the fact that he must be about 80 now, she reminded me of a situation that our family knows of that involved a 78 year old man, so age doesn’t’ mean much when it comes to a person like this. What I don’t understand is how no one in some authority - even another teacher at ASIJ - didn’t know what was going on and report it. Or - even more frightening - is that it was known and pushed under the carpet.”

One person who was not one of his direct subjects wrote to Michele. “I do remember that I couldn’t stand the way he touched me. I also remember his anger, but never knew where it came from. Now it all seems to make sense. I remember him getting very angry with one girl, and she was so scared that she asked us to get in the car with her.  Jack drove like a madman, and when he confronted her, he said, “What do you want me to do, make love to you?” I remember being very horrified. Also, he told me a story once about a teacher on Miyake who fiddled with a young girl, got caught and in a lot of trouble. I remember thinking that he was talking about himself. Now I know. He also told me how he made love to one girl. I think she was 18. At the age of 12, I thought that was very grown up. Also, felt sick that he had told me. What a sicko.”

“Once he took a group of us to dinner with the owner of the ship company. We had to sit on either side of this shipping tycoon as we spoke Japanese.” She goes on to describe how this shipping tycoon had come on to her and asserted himself on her in the bathroom. She was able to fend him off and went back to sit down, this time with the only boy there. Jack kept insisting that she sit next to the tycoon. On the way back from the dinner she told Jack what happened and he replied, “We had to understand how men were and that they had needs. We were so angry that we made him stop the car and got out.”

“Yes, everyone knew it was going on.”

“We all looked up to Jack, the only adult in the world who made us feel important, who played music for us, who sang to us, who took thousands of picture of us, told jokes and made us laugh, teaching us to dive and to take part in important adult biological research. He taught us fish names and stuff about the ocean. We felt so adult, so knowledgeable. To this day I can name ocean currents other people can’t. Sometimes Jack would confide in me, like an adult, and tell me people were telling nasty rumors about him, and I would always comfort him. I was never sure exactly what he was referring to, but, comforting him seemed to be my job, and I took it seriously. He was, after all, saving my life. Maybe that’s what kept us so quiet.”

“I also remember that when I was in the 7th grade, we would all go hang out in  Jack’s office between classes. He told us we had to stop coming as the other teachers were jealous of his relationship with kids. So we didn’t go for a while. One of the girls in our year - a new girl from the US - was very unhappy. We talked to her and found out that she was trying to commit suicide by taking a load of aspirin. We didn’t know what to do and told Jack. He did the appropriate thing by telling the appropriate people, got an ambulance, etc. After that he felt as though he vindicated himself with the other teachers and we were allowed to go back and sit with him again.”

On October 16, 2003 I received this from Michele.

Dear Janet,

This is going to be a tough email for you to read. I didn’t know whether to send it to you or not, but then it occurred to me that you probably have to be prepared to hear unpleasant stuff. What we are doing is not pretty and this is just the beginning. The good thing about this email, is that, according to the writer, you had at least three witnesses. I think this is very important, and your lawyer will probably think so too. This person is lining up some lawyers for me in Tokyo. Just remember, it may get tougher, but we are all behind you. I feel so awful, I wonder if I was there and this was just another thing I blocked out. I most probably was and most probably did. Michele

Following email to Michele:

Hi Michele,

Of course I remember you! We spent many a day in Miyake together, how could I ever forget you. I have been brought up to speed about Janet Calcote et al. The Mr. Moyer Pedophilia has finally been brought out into the open and we can talk about it. Times have changed. We were saying how pedophilia wasn’t in the news in our day, we were hardly aware that it existed. And could we put a definition on Mr. Moyer's bizarre behavior? He was our teacher and our friend and we put our trust in him, we would never think in our wildest dreams that he would abuse that trust in such a horrific way.

My memory is hazy but there are certain incidents I recall with such clarity.

Editors note: I can’t write exactly what she wrote in the email because it is too explicit, however, I will attempt to summarize it. (So far, this has been the most difficult thing to re-read and now write.0

Several people walked in on Mr. Moyer putting ointment on me for a rash I had. Very embarrassing. I don’t remember them walking in - can’t imagine why. She goes on the write, “When we burst in the door, he had this look on his face, one of surprise, guilt and oops I-got-my-hand-caught-in-the-cookie-jar look. We all sputtered, what are you doing? We were in shock! He got angry and told us to leave and shut the door. We wanted to believe him, we needed to believe him and yet what a strange thing to do. Another time, again, early high school, we were all there, 14 girls and Mr. Moyer the Pedophile. It was hot, it was summer and Mr. Moyer slept in the middle and all us 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 Mr. Moyer with his hand groping up and down one of the girls legs. I don’t know whose it was. 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. At that age, we didn’t have the maturity to handle the situation, the reality, or the emotion. I’m sure if I think further I can think of more. But like the rest of us, I’m sure we all have tried to bury or suppress the visuals after all these years. Just too gross."

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