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.
I have knowledge of the situation. Mary Miller didn’t give one whit about the school’s Catholic identity and was a pious fraud. Marian Stuckey went on to become the diocesan superintendent of schools and oversaw the dismantling of Catholic identity on a diocesan scale. The current superintendent issued a letter in June groveling before BLM, as did the administration of the diocesan high school Archbishop Mitty. Understand this: administrators of Catholic schools are, as a general rule, pious frauds. Do not send your children to a Catholic school expecting them to receive a Catholic education and do not send them expecting them to be safe. The leftists who run those schools don’t care about kids. They care about indoctrinating them into left-wing ideology. Oh, and when will Lisa Brunolli at Presentation HS, who was assistant principal and received some of the reports of abuse but did nothing about them be fired? She bears blame too. No, she was demoted from being assistant principal to campus minister but has no credentials for that work. What a crock.
For years in the area, it was a rather widely-known “secret” that Presentation had active lesbians as teachers and administrators. The term “Pres Les” did have some truth behind it. Students and former students would even talk about it. I don’t know of anyone who knew of the male predators at the school. Other local Catholic schools, high schools and elementary schools, have known, public dissenters on staff, including those who are shacked up with a person other than his or her spouse. Pray that the new bishop will deal with diocesan schools, under his control, and at least not permit other dissenting schools, including Santa Clara University, to use the name “Catholic” or dispense sacraments (both of which he has control over).
Add to that teachers in Catholic schools in civil gay marriages, with the full knowledge and blessing of the administration and faculty and the knowledge of the students, and they give speeches to the student assembly on “diversity days” about acceptance of it all. Add to that school policies that allow boys to bring boys to prom and formal dances, and same with girls bringing girls as their dates. Oh, they don’t tell you any of that in their admissions literature nor at open house tours. Catholic schools in the diocese of San Jose are rotten. Bishop Cantu’ needs to clean house quickly.
More power to Ms Leehane and others working to expose abuse at Presentation. I believe the only solution to this is constant vigilance and, where warranted, criminal prosecution.
All well and good…but if tolerance of on line pornography by individuals and local/state/national administrators continues, prosecution is just whistling past the graveyard. The idea is to protect and prevent. Prosecution is just and required but it won’t even slow down the predation that is pandemic.
What is needed is a campaign on the level of the pro-life movement against internet pornography. Its that serious.
Nobody in the area believes Presentation is or has been a Catholic school for the past thirty years or more. They talk about the “sisterhood” at Pres, but they don’t mean the Presentation Sisters, they mean student bonding. I’d estimate that 2% or less of Presentation graduates are practicing Catholics. Is that a school worth keeping open as a Catholic school? Time for these Catholic schools to give up the charade. They ain’t Catholic.
Parents (and grandparents, if they’re helping) should support truly Catholic schools, like Canyon Heights Academy in Campbell (K-8). Unfortunately, there seems to no solidly Catholic high school in the San Jose area. Currently, Valley Christian High School has an enrollment that I was told is about 1/3 Catholic. While not Catholic, it is a Christian school and is not anti-Catholic. Many parents have chosen such a school for supporting basic Christian values and I’ve personally spoken with Catholic students and parents at Valley Christian who’ve found it to be a good experience. The Diocese of San Jose was going to open a St. John XXIII Catholic high school in south county, but, apparently, they didn’t check with local government and chose a site they cannot develop into a school. So, that plan has been canceled. It’s all so sad and disappointing.
That high school was in the works for over 25 years and the diocese of San Jose under Bishop McGrath couldn’t get past plans and buying land, and that during the tech boom when money was aplenty in that diocese for projects. Gross incompetence. They can’t even run the schools they have right.
Does the current bishop have the guts and smarts to clean up that diocese? He’s been there long enough that, by now I would think, there might have been some cleaning up, lots and lots of firings, and the closing of deficient schools. He’s had the appointment now now for two years. What’s he done? What is he doing?
Valley Christian High School is anti-Catholic. My granddaughter attended the school and shared that she was bullied at the school for being a practicing Catholic and for praying the Rosary with another girl during the lunch break. The incidents were reported to the school administrators who told her she should read the Bible instead of praying the rosary.
Interesting. Apparently, different Catholic students are having different experiences there. I spoke with one young woman (a Catholic) who went to the head of the school with her concerns, which were addressed. And, I know of a Catholic staff member there who has not encountered that.
Anyone have any better alternatives for high school in the San Jose area?