Saturday, October 10, 2009

Day Thirty-three - UNBELIEVABLE!!

Just got back from three glorious hours at the beach. Temperature in the mid-eighties. Slight breeze, blue sky feathered with soft white clouds. The water was so calm and clear that I saw a school of small fish swimming around my feet, about 300 or so. There was a huge jelly-fish stranded on the beach about 6-7 inches in diameter. Polly, my dog, and I got in the water and waded a bit. The water was still warm as we have yet to have any really cold days. We walked out on Sand Island for about 45 minutes and I read a completely meaningless detective novel for complete relaxation. Got a slight fall tan going which is nice.

I’m eating a boring bowl of oatmeal made with water because I’m too lazy to go to the store. I’ll do that later for dinner, after I dive into some more correspondence.

The next email I have is dated August 11, 2003. Michele was in the process of trying to communicate with the young woman who sent the letter asking for monetary help for Mr. J. Evidently, after I had corresponded with her, so had multiple other people including a faculty member who chastised her for sending out the request. Isn’t that funny? Even a faculty member? Can you see how easily he hid his true nature from people. What’s so interesting about all this is that these chastisements came before I “officially” contacted the school. So, another person was hurt and put in a bad position because of his manipulation of her. I feel so bad for her because now her experiences in Japan are tainted by this horrible problem that NO BODY wanted to address.

It was after this correspondence from Michele that we both started talking about sending out a letter to reach out to other people who had been molested by him. The next email I received from Michele began with, “Lord have mercy, this is probably one of the hardest letters I have written.”

You can only imagine how hard it was. We both were soon to open ourselves up for a ride of our lives. I began talking with a personal friend and advisor about all of this. My husband also gave me wise and sound advice.

The questions my friend/advisor asked me were:
1. How do we proceed in finding out who else is out there as a “victim” (I hate that word) of his abuse?
2. What is our intention in finding them?
3. How can we keep Jack from hearing about it and thus keep him from going into hiding?
4. What is the best way to proceed with regard to Jack?
5. What is the best way to proceed with regard to the school?

We talked about these things and both agreed that we needed to start by contacting a limited number of people initially. We sent out a generic letter (I think it is the one I posted in an earlier blog post) I’ll have to look to see which one. We felt that if we were finally going through the process of understanding the pain and knowing we weren’t alone, that others might want the same opportunity to join us in our camaraderie and also, have a safe place to talk about it.

It was not our intention to “go after” Jack.  We decided to approach him with the attitude that we would give him the opportunity to admit it, make restitution and stop working with children and receive lifelong therapy. We didn’t think he would do any of that, so we decided that if he didn’t respond we would move forward legally and make sure he wasn’t allowed to work with children anymore.

We felt that seeking legal counsel was probably a good idea as well, with regards to both Jack and the school since we really didn’t know what else to do. Especially if the school responded like they had in the past. At this point, however, no one except a select few knew we were even talking. This was in early September.

After we refined the letter, we started creating a list of people we thought might shed some light on the subject and or connect us with people who he abused. At this point, we really didn’t know if there were a lot of others. I had spoken to one person at the reunion who told me that she was one of the “chosen” ones. She was nine when he began molesting her, much in the same way it started with me, talking walks on the golf course with the dogs. So, we knew there were others, just didn’t know how many.

In mid September both Michele and I started feeling very reluctant to go forward, as you can probably imagine. One comment I wrote to Michele on an email dated September 11, 2003 was, “I haven’t started yet (contacting people) cause I’m scared.”

I find it ironic that it was on September 11, 2003 – two years after the Twin Towers went down and one year after we closed on our house in Baton Rouge. One thing I remember reading was a response from Michele about not being able to comprehend violent acts or harmful things. She wrote, “I don’t believe my own eyes/ears if I am witnessing something really awful.” I remember a similar feeling back during Thanksgiving of 1977, after I was dating that creep from Mississippi College – I broke up with him and flew up to my brother’s in Cleveland for the Thanksgiving holidays. I stayed with my brother, his wife (remember ALC?) and his sweet daughter, my niece. Evidently, I had shared with him during that visit about my experiencing with Jack. (I don’t remember doing that.) I was also coming off of this horrible relationship I had with this older man, and I was really screwed up.

Anyway, one afternoon my brother came home from work and flipped on the TV and told us something really weird was happening – it was Jim Jones and his massacre and ultimate suicide down in Guyana. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. But what I recall most about that time was my inability to understand the reality of this bizarre event. I had a really hard time getting my head around what was actually going on. I felt that way during 9-11 as well. So maybe that is a common reaction to those of us who have been subjected to abuse during our very informative years.

So, we finally sent the letter out in mid-September. We both had a list of people we wanted to start with and agreed not to duplicate sending to the same people. We began receiving responses right away, some from people who had been subjected to the abuse and others from people remembering things. We received encouragement from some and harsh rejections from others. I received a correspondence from a former teacher who we knew who had some not so kind things to say about Jack to the person who requested money three years before.

His response is below.

Dear Janet,
First, please accept my sympathy for what you have endured these many years. Most of us in education abhor the behavior of the few. My wife and I spent time discussing this situation you have presented. Unfortunately, there was only rumor for me to use as a basis for refusing to donate three years ago. I chaperoned more than ten trips for the seventh graders and witnessed a strong preference for and association with the girls in the groups. There was a large ego issue that played on the girls and not the boys. Fortunately, I noticed nothing overt. In the next few days I hope to find time and words to write to a former colleague to ask for correspondence to be sent to individuals who might have been molested. The information must come from them. I start jury duty tomorrow and still have classes to prepare for my substitute, but will be in touch with you within the week. What of your past should I explain to others who were at ASIJ long before me? I assume your name should be sent by you, but I might find some willing ears. One behalf of my sons and all the children, I thank you. You will be in my thoughts for a long time.

This was sent on September 22, 2003.

I know during this time I received numerous phone calls from people who preferred to call rather than write. One person I spoke with told me that she had contacted ASIJ about this and personally spoke with the principal with her parents in the fall of 1977. Another person I spoke with stayed home sick from school several days because she didn’t want to see him at school any more. Jack eventually came to her house and talked to her dad. She could hear him through the walls asking her dad if she was okay, and feeling all the while that Jack was just securing her silence by making her dad think he really was concerned about her. Master manipulator. She also told me that she had formally written the school in 1982. Can you believe it? I guess now you can after all I’ve written. Two different people, two different incidences, contacted the school and what does the administration do? Continue to allow this master manipulator to continue his activities and his abuse of students. How could they do that? I just can’t believe I’m reading this correctly. In 1977 and then again in 1982 – that we know of. Come to find out later that Jack didn’t actually quit teaching at ASIJ until 1984. And even after he quit teaching he still had ASIJ JLAP students come to his farm on Miyake until 2000! Unbelievable!!

Are these people nuts? What were they thinking? “Let’s just ignore the situation and it will go away.” And I guess it did until 2003. Now do you see why this is soooooooo important to talk about now. Hopefully, this will encourage anyone out there who has any doubt about bringing forward any information to go ahead and do it. What were they thinking? “We’ll wait and let someone else handle this because it usually takes 30 years before the “victims” to realize what really happened.” In the meantime, more girls were being abused. I cannot believe this. I’m sitting here shaking my head now almost 40 years later.

Okay folks – you had to know that eventually this was going to come out. I’m so sorry.

1 comment:

  1. Man, you were thinking in such a lucid, organized manner with those five essential questions, about your overall purpose, motive, method, etc. sugoi!