A boarding school. Naked dance parties. Child pornography. Molestation. An arrest. A suicide. Allegations. Lawsuits.
Total institutional ethical failure.
When I first heard about the scandal at Minnesota’s Shattuck-St. Mary’s (I’ll refer to it from now on as SSM), I had a hard time wrapping my arms around the extent of the criminal behavior. And let’s face it, I am not a novice when it comes to these cases. It takes a lot to shock me.
SSM, a grade 6-12 Episcopal boarding and day school located about 50 miles from Minneapolis, also reminds me of a school a little closer to home—one that suffered its own huge institutional failure when it came to child sex abuse and cover-up.
There is so much to discuss, that I have decided to write a series of posts about SSM and what happened. I am also going to try and tackle some of the questions we are all asking. Things like:
- Why is the headmaster who covered up abuse still working at the school? How common is this?
- Why did school administrators allow a teacher with child pornography on a school computer to quietly resign … with a nice, fat check?
- Why didn’t the school do anything earlier—like when they discovered that the teacher was complicit in allowing and observing “Naked Dance Parties” and was rumored to be giving make students lessons on “penis enlargement”?
I am also going to look at some of the players—people like:
- The law firm that took it upon itself to investigate sexual abuse, although they had no knowledge or experience with victims, criminal law, or the complexities of child sex abuse—and who also kept a disc of a molester’s child pornography in their files for almost a decade.
- The headmaster who allowed and facilitated the cover-up.
- The drama teacher and child molester, who allows victims’ attorneys a glimpse into the mind of a predator and the sticky, tangled spider web that is grooming.
That’s a lot to talk about. But the only way to stop this kind of cover-up in the future is to truly understand how and why it happened here.