Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Update # 1 3.30.14

Thank you to everyone who reached out to me during the last several weeks. We had our fundraiser for HOPE and it was a huge success!! Thanks for all your gambate's. Ok. Here goes. I will attempt to get all the facts, dates etc. straight but probably won't so please forgive me for any inaccuracies. The names stated from here forward are used with permission. In November 2011 the Penn State atrocities came to light. I wrote earlier in my blog about my thoughts about that. In December of 2011 I received an email from '68 ASIJ Alum, David Bruns. He came across my blog and read it in full before contacting me. His initial contact with me included a draft letter to the ASIJ administration asking for accountability from the administration for the Jack Moyer victims and for those possibly yet identified primarily in the Japanese community. David mailed his first letter to ASIJ Chairman of the Board on December 9, 2011. By the end of January he had not heard or received a response from ASIJ. It wasn't until February 20, 2012 that he received a letter from the Head of School. The letter stated that the board chair had received the correspondence and that both the Head of School and the board chair were not in their current positions in 2004 when this all came to light. The letter also stated that,
"ASIJ continues to monitor, through practice and policy, vigilance to provide an appropriate level of education, protection, and proactive measures to insure the safety of our students."
This response was pretty much the same that Michele and I received from the previous administrations. I can understand why, however, because I'm sure their attorneys are keeping their hands tied and from what I have gathered it has worked so far. Read this latest article about Jerry Sandusky's wife to see how far reaching this is for so many people. http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/26/justice/dottie-sandusky-interview/index.html"
http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/26/justice/dottie-sandusky-interview/index.html And look at how it has impacted Penn State.
"Since the trial, 26 men have settled claims with Penn State totaling $59.7 million in connection with the Sandusky scandal, the university announced last fall. A few other claims have not yet been settled."
In the meantime, on Oct. 2, 2012 I received an email from another one of Jack's targets, Jennifer Vogel Laurie class of '87. While on her own journey to find out what happened to her personally, she ran across my blog and found that she wasn't alone. She shared her personal experience with me and shared that she found it very difficult to read the blog because she found herself listed in the horrible numbered admittance by Jack. She went on to say,
"When I read in your blog about ASIJ's lack of willingness to protect it's students, it was as if the scab was freshly ripped off again. I am absolutely furious....To discover that what happened to me in the summer of 1982 could have been prevented if they had taken action after being made aware of his behavior in 1977, and again in 1982 (the same year!!), I feel incredibly let down and disgusted."
Let me state right here that all of a sudden I felt thrown back into all the emotions and feelings I had while originally writing my blog in 2009 and 2010. I didn't want to revisit it, I didn't want to have to answer questions. I really wanted to lay it to rest. I have to admit that this new request was difficult for me to handle. HOPE experienced a devastating fire in October of 2012. I had recently been promoted to President/CEO and I had a lot on my plate. Additionally, after the fire (possibly due to vandalism) we had 15 more cases of vandalism. It seemed like every day I arrived at the office another crisis happened and my life was spinning out of control but I couldn't let go. I find it interesting too that the announcement from ASIJ this year came right before a huge event. Timing for me for all of this was very off. I didn't handle this new request and information very well. I was done. Over. But, it wasn't at all over for Jennifer. Jennifer continued to ask me questions via email and I responded the best way I could but not very well. I received a long correspondence from her in February 2013. I was still in the throws of recovering from the fire. We still had not settled with the insurance company. Half of our building was gutted, we moved all of our offices into a small space. We were working on top of each other still trying to meet the needs of our community. It just wasn't a good time for me all the way around. Meanwhile, being disappointed in the school's response to his letter, David wrote another letter to the Chairman of the Board in November of 2012. One paragraph of that letter read,
"I attach my previous letter and urge you to reconsider your silence and apparent inaction. It can seem unfair that the previous boards have failed to deal appropriately with this case and that it ends up in your laps. However, the fact remains that the school has not fulfilled its obligation to deal with this publicly. It is now your responsibility."
On December 1, 2012 he followed up with an email to the Head of School calling again for public action. He received another response in February basically saying,
"We are looking into it and I can't say anything else at this time."
Being the leader of a nonprofit organization, I can completely understand the administration's dilemma. If you publicly announce your knowledge of the activity, you are opening yourself up for a huge lawsuit. I get it. That's why the letter to the alum this year in March was still very vague. In May of 2013, I received another email from David stating that he was heading to an ASIJ 1968 reunion in San Diego in June and was hoping to talk with some of his fellow classmates about this. My brother, Stuart, was at the reunion as well as some other people who he spoke with about the school's obligation to publicly acknowledge Moyer's abuse. During the summer of 2013 I was not privy to any activity going on with either David or Jennifer. In late October I received an email from David asking if he could call me. I must say that I was hesitant and really at this point in time didn't really know his motive. I wasn't sure I could trust him and felt very reluctant to take his call. However, never being one to run away from difficulty I accepted his request and he called me. It was very difficult at first for me to speak with David. I expressed to him my distrust and my reluctance to speak with him. I asked him why he was so adamant about pursuing this when he really didn't have any skin in the game. He shared some information with me that would indicate he was genuine and he also shared a concern that no one was reaching out to the Japanese students who possible were subjected to Jack's abuse. After our conversation, I felt better about David's work but explained to him that I just wasn't up to the task. I begged forgiveness and gave him my gambate. I also let him know that Jennifer was also pursuing the same thing with ASIJ and introduced the two of them to each other. In November and December of 2013 both David and Jennifer were corresponding with the school. In November of 2013 Jennifer sent the letter written below.
My name is Jennifer (Vogel) Laurie. I was a student at ASIJ from 1979 through 1983, as part of the class of 1987. I left after I completed the 8th grade, when my family returned to the US, so I didn’t actually get to graduate from ASIJ with my classmates. I was very sad when my parents moved us back to the states as I truly love Japan and wanted to stay at ASIJ for the remainder of my school years. My sisters & brother also attended ASIJ over the years, and my sister Sandra graduated from there in 1980. Our family had always been very proud of our ASIJ ties. This letter has taken me over a year to write and it’s very difficult for me to do even now. When I was in the 7th grade in 1981-82, Jack Moyer was one of my teachers. I thought he was a wonderful teacher, and so did all of my classmates. When he started to give me special attention, I really felt like he cared about me and was interested in my learning and in supporting my interest in science. He would give me gifts, ask about my family and my home life, and give me advice about dealing with my parents. I felt so honored that he took an interest in me, and had a wonderful time talking to him about biology and oceanography, and what I wanted to do with my life when I grew up. I loved our school trip to Miyake and really wanted to learn how to SCUBA dive. He treated me like a grown-up. At that time, my 11 - 12 year old brain didn’t understand his motives. Right before the end of my 7th grade year, he called my home and asked me to go to Miyake with him (alone) that summer (1982). He came to my house and spoke with my parents, telling them that he knew that I wanted to learn to scuba dive, and he wanted to teach me. He must have been convincing because my parents allowed me to go with him. I’m sure that you can imagine what happened to me on that trip, because it’s widely known now that Moyer was a serial pedophile. Needless to say, the experience was very difficult and painful for me. As a child, I wasn’t capable of understanding or dealing with what happened to me, so for many years, I tried to put it out of my mind. I thought that I must have done something wrong and I didn’t want to get in trouble, so I didn’t tell anyone. Later in my 8th grade year, he asked me to go to Miyake again (I believe it must have been spring break, although I can’t recall now). Despite what had happened to me previously, I really wanted to go again, so this time I asked him if I could bring a friend with me, and he allowed it. He didn’t assault me on that trip, and shortly after that he stopped his pursuit of me. In my late teens, I began to experience depression and paralyzing anxiety, and as the years went on, the symptoms seemed to worsen. In my early 20s, I finally told my parents about what he had done to me. My father was furious and wanted to contact ASIJ, but at that time, I was buried in shame and didn’t want anyone to know, so I begged him not to and he respected my wishes. My anxiety and flashbacks were so severe that for years it was extremely hard for me to work. Over the years, I have been to many therapists, and have tried all sorts of treatments, including one-on-one counseling, group therapy, different medications, acupuncture and even hypnosis. I suffered for many years with only a modicum of improvement, until I found an excellent therapist in 2011 who specializes in trauma related issues. She has been slowly helping me deal with the flashbacks and the feelings of shame and helplessness that I had been dealing with for the last 30 years. One day, we were talking about Moyer and she asked me what year he had died. I couldn’t remember, and when I got home that night, it was bugging me so I went online to see if I could find out, and that is when I came across Janet Calcote Simmons’ blog, which I hope that you are by now familiar with. To say that it was a shock is a huge understatement. I was sitting in my home in Oregon, finding out that this man who had abused me so savagely 30 years prior had many other victims (I never knew there was anyone else for sure), and reading a very explicit account of my abuse that Moyer himself had written. Please refer to Janet’s blog, www.asij-holdingmyhand.blogspot.com . On day #58 “Moyer’s Response”, I am number 11 on the list. He left a few things out of his lurid description, but when he said that I was scared and didn’t want to touch him, he was right. Unfortunately, he didn’t give me a choice; he forced himself on me. As weird and awful as it was to read all of that, the most upsetting thing of all was finding out that ASIJ knew, as early as 1977 (if not earlier), that Moyer had been inappropriate with young girls and had failed to take action to protect other students. In fact, from what Janet Calcote Simmons reports, by the time I was abused by him in the summer of 1982, the ASIJ administration had been notified at least 2 times of his actions. How could that be true? It’s hard for me to come to grips with the fact that a school that was so loved by myself and my family actually KNEW that they had a pedophile on their faculty and didn’t deal with it. As a direct result of that inaction, he was still employed and able to assault me in 1982. I was (and still am) devastated. I have been in contact with Janet Calcote Simmons and Michele Connor, the two women who confronted Moyer and tried to make sure that no other children were abused by him. Michele has sent me copies of documents and letters that were sent between themselves and Mr. Moyer, and between the previous Headmaster (Tim Carr) and Janet. I have also received copies of letters that were sent to the ASIJ Board and you, Mr. Ladd, by Mr. David Bruns, a concerned alum from the class of 1968. I am deeply upset about what appears to be a complete lack of action and interest in bringing this situation to light and working on righting the wrongs of the past administrations. In a letter that was written by you, Mr. Ladd, to David Bruns on the 20th of February, 2012, you said, “As a school, we remain committed to our continued support for any victims in this matter”. This statement would indicate that there has actually been some support of victims, and that you were committed to continuing it. As a victim myself, I would very much like to know what types of support have been given and why no one has ever contacted me? I know that Janet Simmons had informed ASIJ in 2003 that she and Michele had spoken to and uncovered many more victims. What effort has ASIJ made to contact all of his victims and offer support or reparations? Did anyone there ever ask Ms. Calcote Simmons to provide names of victims that Moyer listed so that they could be contacted? I believe that I deserve to have answers to these questions as my name is on that list. I have spoken out to all of the classmates that I am still in touch with, and have received a lot of support from them. However I was very distraught to hear from one classmate who told me that Jack Moyer was not the only pedophile teacher at ASIJ, and that not only young girls were affected, but young boys also. However, he was not willing to go public with this information yet so I will not name him. I am assuming, as he was also in the class of 1987, that his abuse also occurred in the early to mid-1980s. He told me that he was not the only one. ASIJ has failed in every way regarding this matter, and I am deeply saddened by this. If someone had actually done something regarding Mr. Moyer and had made it right when it was first reported, maybe victims of other teachers would have felt safe to speak out and receive help. Regardless of whether anyone in the current administration was working there when the abuse was taking place, you still have the responsibility to bring this issue into the light, publicly, and make a concerted and true effort to make sure that all of the victims are helped. There could still be other unidentified victims out there who need assistance. The current administration has the opportunity to do the right thing. These are some of the things that I (and others) feel need to happen, as soon as possible: • Use school publications and websites to publicly talk about what happened and start a campaign to locate all female and male victims of sexual abuse at ASIJ. • Acknowledge what has happened and personally contact all victims and offer sincere apologies and assistance. • Establish a fund to help pay for professional counseling and treatment for victims. • Provide a link to assistance and support on your school and alumni web pages that victims can click on to be connected with help. In addition, there should be a place where those who have been molested by Moyer (and any other faculty or staff) can receive confidential assistance, perhaps through Tokyo English Life Line (TELL) or a school counselor at ASIJ. • Contact the Ministry of Education to alert them that to the fact that Mr. Moyer had approximately 18 years of contact with Japanese school children and could have had many victims during that time. Share what the school is doing for its own victims as ideas for how the Japanese victims (if they exist) could be helped. It is very disturbing to me that all of the victims have been living with so much pain and suffering for so many years and Mr. Moyer never had to deal with any consequences of his actions, at least until Janet Simmons and Michele Connor confronted him. I also found out that Mr. Moyer left ASIJ in 1984 voluntarily, and even after that continued with the Miyake program until the volcano erupted in 2000. I would very much like to know why this was allowed to happen. All of this has been very humiliating and painful, but the worst thing for me is the heartbreaking realization that the school neglected to stop him and has been indifferent to the needs of victims. I have sought the advice of a lawyer who has given me some suggestions on how to move forward, due to the fact that there is evidence that the school knew about Mr. Moyer’s behavior prior to the date that I was molested. Of course, it would be ideal if the school took a proactive approach and did what is right on its own. I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Jennifer Vogel Laurie, ASIJ class of 1987
In December of 2013, I received a request to speak with one of the administrators from ASIJ via phone. I spoke with the administrator at length and felt like they (ASIJ) were attempting to do the right thing. The next time I received correspondence from ASIJ was on Friday, March 14 stating that an email would be sent out to all ASIJ alumn. Following is the email I received from the school.
March 17, 2014 Dear ASIJ Alumni and ASIJ Community, This past November, we received a letter from a former ASIJ student detailing sexual abuse by a former ASIJ teacher, Jack Moyer. Moyer was employed as a middle school teacher from 1963 - 84. Based on other information we have been able to gather, as well as an acknowledgement made by Moyer to another affected student prior to his death in 2004, we believe he engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with students during his teaching tenure at ASIJ. Following his retirement from teaching at ASIJ in 1984, Moyer continued as a consultant for ASIJ’s off-campus marine science programs until 2000. The current Board of Directors and leadership team take these circumstances very seriously and recognize the disturbing implication for our students and families, past and present. By openly acknowledging this sad part of our history and by offering our sincere sympathy to those who were impacted by these events, we hope to assist in the healing process. We encourage anyone who desires to share his or her experience with us to reach out. Please contact Board Chair, Mrs. Stephanie Howe Toppino by either calling the school directly (0422-34-5300 ext 201) or via email at stoppino@asij.ac.jp. We also take this opportunity to assure our community that ASIJ is a school committed to sustaining an environment that does not permit or condone any form of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or any abuse of children by adults. To this end, we will continue to review policies and practices as they relate to the protection of students. Currently our counseling programs at each division address with our students about their responsibility to treat others with respect, their parallel right to be treated with respect and be safe in their person and how to report inappropriate behavior. Counselors at each division will continue to reinforce these messages. We would like to also announce an ASIJ donation to TELL Counseling. TELL offers counseling services throughout Japan as well as a Lifeline School Awareness Program and the Child Protection Awareness Program. All of these worthy programs address the needs and rights of children in Japan. We encourage those in the community who would like to join us in our pledge to do so by contacting TELL directly at http://www.telljp.com/index.php?/how_to_donate/ One of our core stated values at ASIJ is to provide for the social, physical, and emotional well being of our students. We believe that a culture of trust and respect is the very foundation on which all of our educational efforts as a community are based. As we look forward, the school will work to continually ensure that this foundation remains strong. A recent visitor to ASIJ remarked that our students look out for one another and are gentle in their interactions with each other. We are proud of this observation and will continue to ensure that this culture endures and is the standard by which we judge our success. In this day when social media is so prevalent and concerns with cyber-bullying so paramount, we ask you to be especially sensitive to the impact your words and posts (and those of your children) can have on our community. To ensure that any communications are both accurate and respect the privacy of our community, we ask that you refer any inquiries you may receive directly to either of us, rather than responding yourself. ASIJ, its leadership team, and its Board of Directors, thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation. Sincerely, Stephanie H. Toppino Chair, Board of Directors Edwin V. Ladd Head of School
And now you know some of the rest of the story.

6 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for becoming a trusted resource. You are giving so much.

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  2. "To ensure that any communications are both accurate and respect the privacy of our community, we ask that you refer any inquiries you may receive directly to either of us, rather than responding yourself." (??!)

    Huh?? Excuse me? Am I hearing right? I think ASIJ has some nerve to ask anyone to refer this matter to them.

    After their disgraceful non-action, after they propped up this predator, gave him access to young girls, literally sent these vulnerable children in isolation to an island. A summer program for 7th graders away from home, where they were groomed and picked off by a seasoned predator. Ignored the many complaints. And this continued over decades, across several administrations.

    Now they are under the delusion that anyone is going to find *ASIJ* the best arbiter?

    The school's first responsibility is to protect the students under their care- and they failed, miserably.

    "Respecting privacy" is just a code for hushing things up, the inconvenient truths, the ugliness that they enabled for so many years. Reading this blog, I can only conclude that their cover-up was nothing less than criminal.

    This thing is about to be blown out of the water. Those with any knowledge should shout it from the rooftops!

    I am glad that you started this blog (which I hadn't known about until the recent press coverage) and yes, I think you and all the (now grown) women, should prepare a class action lawsuit, and sue the pants off them. More victims will appear, no doubt. Give the money to charity if you like. But don't let the school off the hook. They were complicit, I'm convinced just by reading this blog.

    Why stir the boat, you ask? After all, it's so many years afterwards. Then again, why make restitution to comfort women? Why restore Nazi loot to the descendants of Holocaust victims? Why not just let bygones be bygones eh.

    Because institutions, like people, have to learn that their actions have CONSEQUENCES. Restitution must be made, and the admission is coming too late, and under duress. Failure to report suspected child abuse, and endangering the welfare of children. Now it is ASIJ's turn to learn this lesson. Other schools, other administrators will also benefit from this example.


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  3. I am an '80s alum of ASIJ and would like to donate to a fund to specifically support the victims of Jack Moyer. Is there such a fund set up? TELL is based in Tokyo. Donating to them is a good cause and it will surely help someone but I would like my support to go to those who suffered sexual abuse at ASIJ. From the letter I received from ASIJ, I don't get a sense that they are proactively reaching out to help the victims. It is the institution's responsibility to provide restitution but I know a lot of us alums feel a tremendous amount of sympathy for those who were victims and would like to do what we can that could help them in a tangible way sooner than later.

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  4. Hi Janet, thanks for this blog, and for the bravery of yourself and all the others who have spoken out (or tried to, over the years). I know of at least one other victim who hasn't come forward yet; she will do so in her own time. Meanwhile I've been in touch with Class of '87 and Class of '88 friends and have offered to write a letter on behalf of Class of '88. Just by coincidence, I have chosen to work in the field of child protection and organizational child safeguarding policies with international and local NGOs in Asia - Pacific over the last 10 years. I am working independently now, but associated with an organization called Keeping Children Safe. We are beginning to focus on international schools in the region - most of whom don't yet have policies. When I received the pretty weak letter from ASIJ, I contacted them to ask for a copy of their current child safeguarding policy. Got a very nice reply, praising the work that 'people like you do', but no policy. I asked once again - no reply. I am beginning to suspect they don't have a policy, even though they make comments about 'reviewing current policies and procedures'. The Class of '88 letter will focus on how to move forward; firstly by addressing the wrongs of the administration in the past, then by developing and adopting, and training staff and children, in an international best-practice child safeguarding policy, with code of conduct, background screening of staff, procedures and guidelines, reporting mechanism, etc. In this day and age, there is NO excuse for not having a proper policy. None. The Australian Royal Commission into Child Abuse in Institutions has brought to light decades of horrific abuse, much of it continuing year after year with the full knowledge of the administration, and in the face of a total lack of policies and procedures. Our children deserve better!! Thanks again Janet, Karen

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  5. Janet, Michelle, Karen & others, Thank you for documenting these terrible events and your courage in standing up the perpetrator and holding the school administration accountable. Society can not learn to recognize and confront these issues unless the truth is made known.

    THV ('83)

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