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Victims that suffered sexual abuse at the hands of faculty and fellow students at California’s exclusive Thacher School may be eligible for justice and compensation

Victims that suffered sexual abuse at the hands of faculty and fellow students at California’s exclusive Thacher School may be eligible for justice and compensation

Student victims of sexual abuse at Thacher School in Ojai, are urged to come forward for a free, private case evaluation by a USA Assistance Team attorney.

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Additional details that are belong released about sexual abuse at Thacher School in Ojai, California

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More than 120 people including current and former students, parents, teachers, staff, administrators and board members were interviewed for a attorney-sponsored 91-page independent report that outlined the various instances and accusations of sexual abuse.

  • Six faculty members and administrators were named in the report–other employees were not mentioned by name based on the strength of evidence, number of reports made, severity of conduct, and effect on survivors.
  • An English teacher was the first mentioned, one who started at the school in 1985 and held several positions at the school until his resignation later that decade–his victim was said to be a student who attended Thacher in the '80s said that she was a lost and homesick freshman.
  • An associate director and soccer coach who had a history of an inappropriate relationship at another school was hired–he was intense  and created a "cult-like" atmosphere where students didn't speak up about what they thought to be strange or inappropriate.
  • Another faculty member was known to have had an inappropriate relationship with a senior boy–and, her "flirtatious behavior" and even late night visits with the boy didn't stop despite a letter of reprimand. 

A common element among all these accounts was school leadership’s failure to properly address and handle these incidents–including, an overall lack of support for those who chose to come forward

Instances of sexual abuse continue to demonstrate Thacher School’s failure to protect it’s students

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In order to understand how a scandal of this magnitude might have happened, one would need to understand the climate that created it.

The Thacher school encourages informal, familial relationships among students and teachers, most of whom live on campus, dine, and camp together.

But these very values that distinguished Thacher created a climate in which boundaries blurred–this left the potential for youths susceptible to grooming by adults, unchecked harassment, and alleged rapes.

After LA law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson released the report revealing decades of sexual misconduct involving faculty and students, the findings divided Thacher alumni.

Some questioned the independence of the report and felt a former head of school was scapegoated while the current administration was not held to the same scrutiny.

Nevertheless, the firm’s report recommended and detailed six categories of corrective actions, including:

  • Providing support measures for students;
  • Improving training and education;
  • Revising policies/procedures for handling allegations of sexual misconduct by employees, and by students;
  • Implementing general strategies to reduce risk of sex misconduct; and,
  • Strengthening board training and oversight.

“The people who were supposed to care for and protect us all failed you,” Lucy Milligan Wahl, an alumna and a daughter of a current and former trustee, said in a Facebook post

The USA Assistance Team believes that sexual abuse victims of Ojai, California’s Thacher School–and the families that suffered, also–should be able to address the administration in a court of law and get both compensation and justice.

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