California School Under Cloud as It Faces Multiple Sex Abuse Claims

It's not your call.

That is the response of an advocate for multiple victims who have made claims over many years of sexual abuse inflicted upon them by teachers and staff members of a prestigious Catholic girls high school in San Jose.

School officials, from the principal on down, strongly assert that they have responded appropriately to the allegations. The problem with their stance, though, notes the above spokesperson for 20 accusers, is that their judgment regarding investigation and outcome has no legal validity under state law. In California, teachers and school employees are so-called "mandated reporters," meaning that they have a duty to report such allegations to law enforcement agencies (please see our January 4, 2018, post).

"Once a report is made," states the girls' advocate, "schools are required to step aside and let the professionals do their job."

The two sides are clearly at odds. A former student who first reported abuse at Presentation High School decades ago and recently followed that up with an in-depth article in the Washington Post says, "I had no idea the can of worms I was opening."

The school's response has been sharp and dismissive. Its principal calls the many accounts of abuse cited by former and current students as "false, unfounded, misleading and half-truths."

The students beg to differ. Thus far, they have pointed to eight school employees they say violated them as minors. The accusers are seeking to meet with the school board in lieu of immediately filing a lawsuit. That body has shown no inclination to cooperate.

The students hope that applied leverage will change board members' minds. They are appealing to school alumnae to cease financially supporting Presentation High until its officials take their claims seriously and solicit outside investigators to probe the allegations.

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