Last night I was talking to a friend who hasn't read my blog but knows what it's about. She asked me if I was keeping up with the McKenzie Phillips story. I confess that I haven't kept up with it. She mentioned that at first she (McKenzie) was molested and even raped by her father but eventually it became consensual. How is that possible? How could it ever become consensual? She was raped and abused over a long time by her father? In order for it to become consensual she would have to have never been abused in the first place.
My husband and I were talking about it this morning. He said he had read Jack's first email again and was wondering what I was feeling about it right now. I expressed my questions about whether I did the right thing. His reaction to Jack's response was similar to those who felt he was manipulating the situation again. He was trying to gain sympathy. My husband helped me to stay level during this entire process.
I don't know what day it was with my response but probably before Thanksgiving. I replied with the following email.
Dear Jack, (By now I was finished with formalities.)
After I received your letter, I needed many hours to contemplate what you said, my feelings about what you said, the questions that arose, and how to respond. After receiving the second letter my own feelings have intensified. Understand when I say to you that I have forgiven you and have no vindictive agenda while proceeding. However, also understand that this is something that I have had to live with for 30 plus years. that the scars that are in me are permanent. Just because I have forgiven you, doesn't mean that I have no emotion regarding my past. In fact, it gives me more freedom to feel the pain.
You have attempted to place a tremendous burden again on me, by attempting to put the outcome of your life and your family's lives on my shoulders. That is not and never will be my responsibility. I will not accept any responsibility for any consequences that you might have to suffer. I resent the implication that your life and that of your family's is in my hands. It is not and never has been. Only God knows your heart, I can not and will not assume to know it. I do know, however, when God has revealed to me something that I have done that is wrong and that has hurt others, His word shows that I am to go to the person I have hurt and seek restitution and forgiveness. I'm not sure how any restitution has been sought by you. What actions have you taken to make it right with those of us who you abused? How have you shown us that you are willing to pay the price of your past actions? (Wow, I didn't remember that I was that strong!)
A verse that comes to mind is Psalm 51:17 which says, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." As I said above, I do not presume to know your heart, but, I do know from my own experiences my responses to God when my heart is broken and contrite. You said in your second letter that you have "accepted" God. What exactly that means, I do not quite understand.
As I read your letter, it seemed to carry with it a familiar tune or responsibility shirking or to use a more familiar term, "buck passing." It sounded more like a man desperate to save his own reputation and financial status, than a contrite man desiring to accept responsibility for his past actions. Your words were about you and how you feel and how this has affected you. I don't see evidence in them that you have understood the wounds that you inflicted on innocent young lives. I don't see remorse or sorrow or suffering for the pain you caused us; only for what you have caused for yourself. (I don't remember being this determined.)
It has raised many questions in me and I would like to be able to ask them and have them answered by you. I don't know what the outcome of this current situation will be. I am not the only one involved in this. I am one of a group of many, many women who are slowly coming forward with their stories.
Each time I read another story I receive from a woman who was subjected to your abuse, my heart breaks. One person, who is also involved with this correspondence is Michele Connor. She spent many hours at Miyake and was a witness to much of the abuse that went on. She was the one person who, when I asked for help, protected me. Unlike me, who carries the scars of the abuse against only me, she carries the scars of many. We are surrounded by a tremendous group of support. In addition to the other victims, we have been in touch with both past and current ASIJ administrators and teachers. Together, and with others, we will proceed as we understand what the right thing is to do.
I have a list of questions, but before I list those I have two very important issues to address. The first one that stands alone for me is regarding the statement you made saying, "I remember you because, as in the case of my other improper behavior, I really liked you." The reason this statement alone made such an impact on me is because of a recollection I have from an experience I had with you. Before I share that experience, let me share with you the affect you had on me and others.
I don't think you realize the impact you had on us. The methods of manipulation that you used to convince us that you were on our side, you made us feel like we were important. You made us feel different. To use the words of another former ASIJ alumnus: "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 pictures 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." What is so sad about this is that every bit of that is tainted with the fact that you used your influence to abuse so many girls.
My experience is that even after I stopped allowing you to abuse me, I still had a strong desire to be accepted by you. We left Japan in 1973 for one year. When I returned in 1974, the first thing I did was find out when the boat that carried you from Miyake was to return to Tokyo Bay. It was right before school started. I went out to meet the boat. I was so excited to see you. You came off the boat, walked right past me. When I saw you and expressed excitement to see you, you all but ignored me. Your response was one of sheer dismissal. At that moment I realized that I was not important to you; that I was a "has been". You had moved on to other people. I had lost my favored status.
I can't tell you how devastating that was to a young girl, who couldn't even comprehend the implications of being molested by a beloved teacher for several years. This is one of many scars I have carried for so many years. So, when you stated that you really liked me, I really question that statement to be true. I was a broken toy to be disposed of. Can you please explain that to me?
The second issue is pertaining to your continued reference of suicide. I am no expert on suicide, however, I have had to deal with this issue with my daughter and a boy she was dating. This boy manipulated my daughter into believing that if she ever broke up with him that he would commit suicide. The reason that he was so convincing to her was that his father had actually not just "cried wolf" but had succeeded to commit suicide. While I'm sure this was the most traumatic abuse any child could suffer (that being the cowardly act of suicide of his father), this boy then used this to further manipulate my daughter into feeling obligated to him, otherwise, he would kill himself. In fact, he claimed to have "saved my daughter's life, twice", and thus according to him, she was "indebted" to him for life. When I finally uncovered the "hold" this boy had on my daughter, I sat him down and said to him these words: " What your father did to you and your family was the act of a coward. Someone needed to tell you this. If you chose to follow in your father's footsteps, that responsibility lies SOLELY on your hands, not on my daughter's. Using the tool of attempting suicide in one of the most powerful manipulations one can use. You will not be allowed to put my daughter through that. You will no longer have any contact with her."
I will say the same to you. Should you choose to use that manipulative tool with me, my response is that you need help and I can't help you. Should you choose to commit suicide, your family will suffer the most; however, no one will be responsible except you for that cowardly act. If you care as deeply for them as you say, then you will stand up like a man and take responsibility for your actions.
The rest of this letter is very long and very deliberate. You may see more of my anger come through because I am still very angry. I've had many questions for a long time that for what ever reason, I haven't been able to get them answered. I'd like for you to listen to my pain, understand my suffering and then explain to me the things that I have asked you to explain.
With regard to the rest of the questions, they are as follows:
1. Why did you suspect that I might have been the "one" who contacted ASIJ in 2000?
2. How have you "taken responsibility" for your actions?
3. Why do you suppose being divorced or dealing with grief from your mother's death would "cause" you to molest children? Many people suffer through divorce, death of much worse and do not resort to child abuse.
4. When did you leave ASIJ? Was it permanent? Did anyone from the administration confront you prior to 2000? When did they? Who was it? Why did you leave ASIJ? What is the time reference to your leaving ASIJ and your going to Santa Barbara?
5. When did you return to Japan? Did you return to ASIJ? Did you resume your work with the Miyake program? What was the school's involvement with that? What were the terms of the arrangement between you and ASIJ? What, if anything, happened in 1990 after the "70's" reunion in Long Beach when you were nominated "favorite teacher" and then the award was pulled from you?
6. The use of the word "improper" is incredibly benign in describing these relationships. Did you tell your psychologist in Santa Barbara that you were a child sexual predator and that you had sexually abused many girls? If so, why would she/he not suggest you contact us and deal with the issue at that time? Any competent psychologist would have advised you to : 1) admit your problem and face it, 2) make restitution to those whom you abused, 3) be willing to suffer the consequences of your actions and 4) immediately stop being in contact of any form with children. (Please remember that I did not have a "how to book" when I wrote this email.)
7. Are you still in touch with the psychologist in Santa Barbara? I'd like to get in touch with him/her with your request of release of information.
8. You say you lived alone after that not interacting with any children. What, if any, was ASIJ's involvement in this?
9. You also mentioned that you didn't have any involvement with children after the 1970's yet you married a young (17 year old?) girl when you were 59. I'm not sure I follow that explanation.
10. You say you would like to contact the women I've communicated with to apologize to them, however, you have never tried to contact me. My name, address and email have been listed on the ASIJ site for 30 years. So, why now do you desire to contact others when you haven't to this point contacted me?
11. Who are the two women you have contacted? I'd like to verify this information.
12. In addition, I have at least seven women I know who were sexually abused by you. What are the names of those girls you remember molesting?
13. You say you don't work with children, yet many pictures on the web sites show your involvement with children directly in the ocean or in the programs you say other teachers are leading. How can you prove to me that you are not involved with children anywhere? Why can't your "schools" exist without your physical involvement? Your word is tremendously lacking in credibility. How can I be certain that you are not currently molesting any child, including your own children?
14. What do you mean by a limited fixed income? Are you receiving any compensation from retirement from ASIJ? If not, why not? Most people have mortgages for their home and any other properties. Many people have debts that exceed $40,000. In fact, $40,000 is a very low figure in the modern world. I'm not sure how your desire or lack there of to work in the Philippines has anything to do with this. I'm not sure how your current financial obligations have anything to do with this as well. People, all the time sell their assets when they are unable to pay for them. I don't see your family going to jail because they can't pay the debt. I could see that the beach property that you own in your wife's name could be sold to pay the debt you own.
15. If you are happily married and care for your children, then why are you separated from then? All of us who grew up in Japan had a bi-cultural experience. Why shouldn't they live with you in Japan?
16. What exactly do you mean by "a large extent?' Your statement reads, and I quote, "Please, Janet, understand that I have dealt with the problem, and to a large extent, succeeded."
17. I have offered to help you and you have requested my help, however, how do I know that this is not another manipulation ploy to get me to succumb to your emotional plea? What concrete evidence do you have to prove that what you are saying is true?
18. Who contacted you in 2000? You mentioned that two ASIJ administrators contacted you. What are their names?
19. What prompted your seeing a psychologist in April of 2003? Who is it? I'd like to speak with him/her. Have you shared with this psychologist your proclivity to abusing children sexually? You say you haven't resumed your molestations? How do I know that?
20. I spoke to your wife and she expressed concern of how this will affect her and your children. I resent the fact that SHE has been put in this position. In my opinion, she is as much or more so one of your victims. She just happened to marry you. I am so very sad that she is suffering the consequences of this and that you put her into a position of not only having to suffer your consequences but to try and plead your case for you. Does she know the details of your "problem" in the 70's?
21. One of the other "girls" remembered a time when we all went with you to several inaugurations for a Japanese boat company. She remembers being approached by a Japanese man from this company. He made sexual advances to her and she was able to fend him off. When she questioned you about his, your response was, "Well, a man does have needs." What was your involvement in this? I remember several times when we went to things with Japanese men. Was there some sort of young girls sex ring?
22. Evidence that this has taken so long to actually "come out", proves that you were either very selective in those who you chose to abuse or that all of us, ASIJ, our parents, those of us who were abused, were too stupid or weak to recognize the situation as it was and to fact it, regardless of the outcome. How did you decide who you were going to chose?
J, I don't know what the outcome will be with all of this. I do know this, that if you truly have "turned to God", then you are definitely at His mercy. I cannot, however, determine how His mercy looks. I have forgiven you a long time ago. I am not convinced by your words, however, that you have proven to me, without any doubt, that no other child will be a victim in your hands. It is not my responsibility to prove that. That burden of proof falls in your hands. I only hope you will be able to succeed. It would be my recommendation that you take my letters to you psychologist and discuss with him/her what you might do next.