More About the Worst Among Us – Alumni Accuse International School of Child Abuse Cover-Up

child-abuse30183278A frightening theme emerged from Readers’ responses to ISR’s previous article, Pedophiles Among Us. It came to light that educators have observed that in reaction to a student’s complaint of a pedophile incident, a school may actually attempt to cover-up the complaint instead of acting upon it. Obviously, public admission of a pedophile in the classroom would not be good for a school’s image or its financial bottom line.

Taking the cover-up theory one step further, some educators expressed the belief that discovered pedophiles may simply be asked to quietly resign. In exchange for leaving the school without a commotion, the school may even go so far as to write the teacher a glowing evaluation. Grievously, the purged pedophile is then free to seek another unsuspecting school, making the school they are leaving just as guilty as the person who committed the crime.

Could there be any truth to such comments? Certainly, very few, if any, schools would fail to act on complaints of a pedophile. The American School in Japan, however, allegedly may be one such school that failed to act, as reported in The Japan Times, March 2014.

The Japan Times informs us that several alumni from the American School in Japan have come forward to claim that their former teacher (noted marine biologist), Jack Moyer, sexually abused students on numerous occasions during his long-term employment at ASIJ (1963-2000). The claim asserts that ASIJ ‘s head teachers, on up to the upper Administration, ignored and covered-up student complaints of Moyer’s crimes and allowed him to continue working with children. It is believed that while working at ASIJ , Moyer abused as many as 32 female students, some as young as 9-years old.

Current Director of ASIJ , Edwin Ladd, and Stephanie Toppino, chair of ASIJ’s Board of Directors, recently revealed knowledge that Moyer abused students while working at the school. In a message to alumni, as reported by The Japan Times on March 20, Ladd and Toppino suggested the school had only learned of Moyer’s alleged molestations in November 2013. This is in sharp contrast to alumni’s statements.

To date, 12 alumni groups have stepped forward and created a Petition requesting a third-party investigation into allegations the school covered up complaints and failed to act during Moyer’s tenure at the school.

As reported in The Japan Times, alumni’s efforts to initiate a third-party investigation into wrong doings on the part of the school have been “stonewalled” by the current administration. It is reported that one Petition organized by 1979 graduate, Susan Larson, charges the school with failing to protect former students and continuing to brush aside complaints from survivors of Moyer’s abuse. Read the entire Japan Times Article

Allegations against ASIJ  appear to be in lock-step with the aforementioned comments in regards to ISR’s previous article, Pedophiles Among Us. In light of complicity allegations against ASIJ , a pressing question is this: When children can’t depend on their school to protect them and offer a safe and secure environment, then what?

Comments

28 Responses to More About the Worst Among Us – Alumni Accuse International School of Child Abuse Cover-Up

  1. David R. Bruns says:

    The current directors and Head of School at ASIJ have also been engaged in the cover-up of the Moyer sexual abuse case for years. This is documented in a letter at the link http://www.asij1968.com/files/doc36-DavidBruns-05112015.pdf on the ASIJ Class of 1968 website which asks for this administrator to resign. I asked them in 2011 to start an investigation and reach out to victims, and asked in 2012 if the school had met its obligations to inform its accrediting body. I used registered mail in 2011 and 2012 to ensure that the directors paid attention, but my points were still willfully ignored.
    I am a 1968 graduate of ASIJ and a former international school teacher in Iran and Norway.

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    • Cass says:

      Thank you for not letting this issue be buried. Following on from the toxic mess of the JIS trial and ongoing appeals, and the post- Vahey lawyering up of every school he taught in, and every school in his “travel club” network… How can we continue to risk asking questions that may be career ending? How can we keep asking questions that will not make IS teachers more vulnerable, yet support the victims? http://www.tieonline.com/view_article.cfm?ArticleID=328

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  2. Cass says:

    Interim review reveals concerns about the humanities teacher’s “unusual/ questionable conduct” were known about and that “inadequate” record keeping meant the alarm was not raised. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jul/31/southbank-international-school-london-paedophile-william-vahey

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  3. Cass says:

    Wonder if the UK will be able to outsource policy changes on mandatory reporting to international schools claiming UK links. http://blogs.channel4.com/snowblog/nspcc-child-abuse-cover-public-school/24184

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  4. Anonymous says:

    I do think the IB authorities should be a bit careful as to who they give the authorization to. Accreditation, for example, could be one of the requirements. Accreditation and IB authorization are not the same, but this is not clearly understood by the public, so a school that would not be able to become accredited for any number of reasons can use IB authorization as a subsitute. Of course, accreditation is not fool proof, but at least it addresses issues regarding governance, finance, and integrity, that perhaps any IB school should be accountable for.

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  5. The director at the American School of Yaounde, instead of prosecuting Tom Page, gave him 48 hours to leave the country. The next year, Tom Page was jailed in Togo for molesting boys on the beach (there were eye witnesses). Currently Sheppard is a director in Kuwait and Tom Page teaches in California. They are both around school children daily.

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  6. Amelia says:

    Does an international school even have the institutional memory to incur the culpability that such charges imply? Even a school with strong traditions and stable stakeholders such as ASIJ? I would think not. I struggle to understand how, in 2014, a totally different administration should be charged with a cover up levied against a previous administration; yet I do understand how the current administration is unwilling to open records, etc., to a third party investigating this issue, as they have the privacy of their current students and families to consider – that is their primary responsibility. While charges against a Catholic church with a very long institutional memory and tradition and many of the same players in power makes total sense, the same simply can’t be said for an international school. Totally for exposing cases sexual abuse, coverups of sexual abuse, and institutional liability, and have absolutely no connection to ASIJ whatsoever, but still don’t see what the critics want them to do that will help the situation.

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    • Cass says:

      Agree – this is going to be an important test case of institutional liability and what constitutes institutional memory in an international institution whose mission is to “develop lifelong learners who are compassionate and are prepared to be responsible global citizens.”

      Your point on abuse cases in schools with “many of the same players in power” is crucial. Some of the same players from years mentioned in the petition are indeed still alive and in power – at other schools.

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    • Simon says:

      I fail to see why there is a conflict between having a third party investigation and the privacy and protection of current students. Why will the opening of records of previous students endanger the current students?

      An investigation, like any criminal investigation, will ascertain who was privy to information regarding sexual abuse, and when. Whether or not this includes members of the current administration will be established. If it is confirmed that no member of the current administration was aware of any incidents, then they will be absolved of any responsibility. That’s a pretty simple premise.

      It astonishes me that you ask what the critics “want them to do that will help the situation”. If you were a victim of systemic sexual abuse at an institution that covered it up, would you not want answers?

      I’m baffled and concerned by your position.

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      • Cass says:

        The petition states:

        “1. To redress the wrongs committed against so many of our classmates, in our class and in other classes.

        2. To understand how and why this could have continued for decades without any full investigation by the school.

        3. For you to better understand the psychology of victims, the psychology of predators, and whether you are looking at a temporary misunderstanding or a repeated pattern—the tip of the iceberg.

        4. For the findings to become public (with victims protected), so that we can all learn from the results.”

        The applicants represent different countries, people educated at one of the most prestigious international schools in the world, many now middle aged. This is no impulsive, “unconscious” response. They have taken decades to consider their concerns, see them in the light of experience, and ask questions respectfully within the system.

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        • Lynn Kolber says:

          There is organizational liability. The type of thinking that because some of the players change the problem goes away is part of the bigger problem that sees school fire and “pass the trash” instead of reporting to the authorities. After my experience I would NEVER allow my children to go on any trips from school. Period.

          So often schools see the warning signs but wait for a catastrophic event before they take action.

          For example, if a teacher asks Middle School children who masturbates this should be an immediate red flag that results in immediate and appropriate action, instead of responding with “x has a locker room mouth.”

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          • Cass says:

            I am so sorry that your experience would leave you not able to be open to school trips, so important for learning. But “red flags” will vary culturally. Many excellent teachers, coaches and counsellors err on what might be considered inappropriate straight talk, or do discuss sexuality (in PSHE / Health) and that discussion will empower students with awareness. I have known colleagues reprimanded for responding to student-led questions on, for example, homosexuality or “double standards” which were important teachable moments. Paradoxically, many predators are superficially “conservative,” prudish, old school, possibly religious, and would never allow such talk in their presence or in a classroom. They reveal themselves in subtle ways, sometimes as bullies towards students who are not their pets, or offering one-on-one special attention for others – in their rooms, after school. On trips, they like to “room check” solo, and seek student attention after a long day when any normal teacher prefers adult company. Favouring boys – or girls – is another sign, and students notice. As another comment mentioned, they can be sweet, mum groomers, shoulder touchers, hair smoothers. The kids may know something is off, and will often refer to them as “creepy” or “pervy.” They are rarely openly impolite. They don’t want an audience; they want loners, misfits, victims.

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            • Lynn Kolber says:

              Kids called the teacher a “pervert” – there were over 20 complaints and the discussion re masturbation was definitely not in the context of a sex ed class.

              Allegations included that the teacher would leave the locker room last with a specific student, touched another making the child uncomfortable, asked a fellow coach to recruit girls to the volleyball team based on their boob sizes, told a girl that her press ups looked like a sex act, gave some girls expensive gifts, was seen off campus having coffee with middle school aged girls, cornered a child under the bleachers on their own and offered them a gift if they lost weight (child was not overweight), invited girls into his office on their own, etc. A pattern of behaviour consistent with grooming?

              How many of these have to happen before a school takes action?

              It seems that many schools (as is evidenced by the recent stories) simply chose to ignore the warning signs and do not report the person, instead “passing the trash”.

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  7. Dumbstruck says:

    Do people not realize that 1) Anon is correct at International Schools “Might Makes Right.” Even in the face of the accusations against Moyer, several people say things in his defense as a kind person who helped students. And I am dumbstruck. 2) International schools are perfect breeding grounds for a host of inappropriate behaviors because there are no checks or balances–often the most charismatic and manipulative types thrive in these environments. 3) Elite tier international schools have too much to lose by admitting anything damaging–All to often high power clientele want their children protected from embarrassment not immorality. So even if teachers tried to expose inappropriate behavior, they would likely become the target rather than the helper.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    As teacher acts in loco parentis and so therefore has the moral responsibility to act on information given to them by a child who has made claims of any kind of abuse.

    The school will have procedures in place and if they do not follow them then it is again the teacher(s) moral responsibility to go to the authorities.

    Suggesting that you keep quiet to protect your career is reprehensible ..

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  9. lifelong int. teacher says:

    What is the responsibility of other teachers still working at the school when they are aware that a staff member has been sacked for sexual abuse and the school has apparently covered up?

    As a young teacher in my first int.posting, a boy came to me and reported a fairly serious incident. Subsequent investigation by the school administration revealed multiple offences during the short period of his employment. The teacher (who wore a priest’s robe and liked to be addressed as “reverend”) was swiftly removed from the country.However,it was widely alleged that he was very soon employed at another international school.In those days internet and email were not available to verify this.

    Thinking back,should those of us who knew have taken any action? There was little point perhaps in damaging our school’s reputation further,and our careers possibly,as it had removed the perpetrator. But they presumably had given this guy a reference……..I still think about it.

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    • Sad says:

      Sad but not surprising. ASIJ is a prime example of a school with such an elitist attitude that I am can easily see the powers that be trying to hush a problem like this up rather than making the tough choices required to protect their students (as opposed to their reputation).

      Like

  10. Lynn Kolber says:

    “Certainly, very few, if any, schools would fail to act on complaints of a pedophile.” I believe that this statement is made with wishful thinking and no factual basis.

    When these sort of cases finally break there is often a pattern of past behaviour consistent with grooming that was ignored for years. Also failing to report suspected cases to authorities is a common problem.

    “The U.S. Government Accountability Office said the nation’s K-12 schools lack a systemic approach to preventing and reporting educator sexual abuse of students, despite a problem that the report said affects an estimated 9.6 percent of students – nearly one in 10 – who are subjected to sexual misconduct by teachers, coaches, principals, bus drivers and other personnel during their K-12 career.”
    http://edsource.org/2014/schools-failing-to-protect-students-from-sexual-abuse-by-school-personnel-federal-report-says/57023#.U3WnIPldWRM

    Schools sometimes embark on their own investigations instead of reporting. ““I think many school districts think they just need to report to their school principal or to the superintendent of the school,” said Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, who requested the federal report as the ranking member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, in an interview with NBC News. “They don’t recognize that under the state law, where they have the laws, they have an obligation to report this to law enforcement officials.”

    Like

    • Cass says:

      Many people presume that because international schools are affiliated with “American” or “British” schools (for example) they are accountable to their embassy or the laws of their home country. Too often they are able to operate in a hinterland between laws at home and the country they are in – especially when it comes to social policies like child protection or sexual abuse.

      Predators can exploit this gap. But schools may be fairly reluctant to report to local authorities, or to reveal suspected incidents to authorities where punitive measures or imprisonment without trial are norms, or blame and punishment of victims is common. In countries where sex outside of marriage or homosexuality itself is a crime, they have to be extra cautious, to protect both victims and alleged abusers; and staff (male and female) who might be targeted because their behaviour in a conservative country is no crime at home.

      As it stands, the reputable search agencies are doing the best safe-guarding checks available, even if it’s not enough. They operate within an insider’s network where it doesn’t make long-term business sense to pass on toxic human resources. Schools who don’t use agencies can operate a more closed system, with local HR gatekeepers, useful to predators who depend on a code of silence.

      Like

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’m so glad this is being brought out in public. Too often international schools think they have the right to operate outside of the law. There are many, many abuses of teachers and in cases like this students. It needs to stop.

    I have seen teachers deported for no good reason other than they expressed a difference of opinion from the director of the school. I have seen one international school take no action against allegations of student abuse but it was not AISJ.It was at a school where the abuser was a local-hire teaching assistant.

    I am currently on my 5th school and really see a pattern of many dedicated teachers, idiot directors, and cover-ups of abuses in general. Also it seems any school can get a PYP authorization and CIS membership easily. Those 2 organizations need to look beyond what is scribbled in the applications and glossed over during the tour to seek truth!

    Many international schools are like the old Wild West where “might makes right”. A very sad situation indeed.

    Like

  12. Anonymous says:

    leave off, it depends on each individual case.

    Like

  13. Cheryl Olson says:

    Any school that is proved as allowing this type of sexual cover-up should immediately lose their accreditation.

    Like

    • Mark LeSurf says:

      I would like to see some statistics on how many schools have lost their accreditation. I think there are very few, other than those who did not fill in the paper work on time.

      Like

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