Nearly three years after an explosive op-ed in the Washington Post during the height of the “Me Too” movement snowballed into an avalanche of sexual misconduct allegations at San Jose’s Presentation High School, a prestigious all-girls Catholic school, a months-long independent investigation “sustained allegations of sexual misconduct or abuse” against six former staffers and found school officials at times failed to report allegations of abuse to authorities and inappropriately retained teachers accused of misconduct.
The report found the abuse occurred over a span of decades, from the early 1980s through 2013, although it did not delve into a 2004 allegation from a former student who said she was sexually abused by her theater teacher because the claim was at the center of a lawsuit that has since been settled. That teacher was later forced to register as a sex offender when we was caught by police at another school with child pornography on his computer.
“Some of the conduct was reported to former principals Marian Stuckey or Mary Miller or other staff at the time, but no action – or ineffective action – was taken,” the investigation conducted by Sacramento law firm Van Dermyden Maddux concluded. “In several instances, there was a concerning lack of curiosity about information which was shared, resulting in a failure to adequately investigate or act timely on information which may have led to more immediate and effective responses.”
Former students who have come forward over the past three years with personal stories of abuse, many of which were covered by NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit since 2017, say they feel vindicated by the report’s findings.
“You feel a combination of re-living some of the trauma, but also some amazing relief that your story is being heard and that people know the truth,” said former student Kathryn Leehane, who made the first public accusation against the school in her 2017 Washington Post op-ed.
Leehane and several other accusers have spearheaded an effort since then to hold abusers at the school accountable, remove leaders who they say covered up allegations of sexual misconduct for decades, and improve the way the school handled misconduct allegations moving forward. Leehane created the Make Pres Safe website to serve as a clearinghouse for accusations of sexual abuse or misconduct at the school.
In a public letter released alongside Thursday’s investigation, Presentation High School President Holly Elkins said the school has taken significant action in response to the findings and forwarded a copy of the report to the San Jose Police Department, which opened an investigation in 2018 into claims school officials violated state mandated reporter laws, but to the dismay of accusers, closed the case more than a year later without making any arrests.
Elkins said Presentation has removed the names of former principals Mary Miller and Marian Stuckey, who presided at the school’s helm for more than forty years combined, from all public spaces at the school….
The above comes from a July 9 story on NBC Bay Area TV.