CA--SNAP blasts school officials: “Shame on you for backing predators & hurting kids!”
Group praises victims who are testifying for 3rd time
Despite predator’s conviction, school claims “he didn’t do it”
SNAP to wounded children: “You’re being very brave & strong”
They blast school officials: “Shame on you for backing predators & hurting kids!”
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, sex abuse victims will
--applaud the brave kids who are being forced by the Mt. Diablo Unified School District to testify about their abuse by former teacher Joseph Martin for the third time, and
--beg anyone who experienced, witnessed or suspected abuse by Martin to report what they know to the authorities.
The group will also blast school officials for
--making a secret deal with Martin,
--refusing to make an earlier abuse report about him public, and
--letting their lawyer claim that the kids were not abused even though Martin is in prison for that abuse.
Monday, January 25, at 12:00 noon.
Outside the Contra Costa County Superior Courthouse, 725 Court Street (between Main and Ward Streets), Martinez, California
Two-three members of a support group for victims called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. (Despite the word “priests” in its name, SNAP has members abused in many types of institutional settings, including schools.)
At the end of this week, testimony in a civil suit filed by boys who were sexually abused by convicted predator Joseph Martin is expected to start. The Mt. Diablo School District says it will claim that the former teacher never abused the children, even though he’s in prison for those crimes. That means the boys will have to relive their ordeal on the witness stand for the third time, SNAP says.
(The case is John Does v. Mt. Diablo Unified School District, Contra Costa County Superior Court Action No. MSC14-00262)
SNAP want the boys and their families know how much the group admires their perseverance.
“We are in awe of these courageous kids,” said Melanie Sakoda, the East Bay director for SNAP. “They are showing great strength in reporting their abuse and in testifying in court. We’re here to let them know that we believe them and support them as they prepare to testify again.”
“To testify, these boys will have to relive the assaults, and I know that’s very difficult,” said Tim Lennon, the San Francisco Director for the survivors’ group. “We commend them and their parents for acting responsibly and helping to protect others through their brave cooperation with the justice system.”
SNAP also wants to remind the public that it’s “never too late to bring new information about child sex crimes or cover ups forward. We beg anyone who has not yet spoken up but who saw, suffered or suspected abuse by Martin to report to the police immediately.”
In addition, SNAP leaders will again blast school officials for their “callous” strategy in this case.
“I was enraged to learn that the district was planning to argue that Martin didn’t abuse these boys, but I’m absolutely livid that they also made a secret deal with the predator!” fumed Sakoda. “Shame on district officials for trying to protect predators instead of kids!”
Lennon also expressed concern over the information in the district’s 2006 investigation into Martin. Mt. Diablo Unified tried very hard to keep this report from the public.
“Institutions can’t investigate themselves,” said Lennon. “That’s why mandatory reporting is so important. The 2006 investigation shows that district employees did not understand their role under the reporting law.”
Sakoda chimed in, “I’m also appalled that the district’s attorneys twice told employees, in 2006 and in 2014, that what Martin was doing was not abuse. It’s all too easy for people to dismiss allegations about their co-workers without the added weight of a ‘legal’ opinion. Suspected abuse should be investigated by law enforcement, not those with a vested interest in covering up the wrong-doing.”
SNAP hopes that parents in the school district will realize that Martin’s conviction did not in any way impact the institutional problems that facilitated the abuse.
“The Contra Costa County grand jury investigated the failure of local school district personnel to follow proper procedures in 2014,” pointed out Sakoda.
“Judging by the actions of the district in this case, I’m not convinced that kids in Mt. Diablo Unified are any safer than they were before the conviction and the lawsuit.”
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.