For immediate release: Wednesday Oct 23, 2013
A Fisher Catholic High School teacher in Columbus was suspended a few days ago for allegedly “sexting” – sending nude or partially nude photos of herself to a student.
We in SNAP believe in the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” This teacher should not be jailed unless she’s convicted.
But that concept doesn’t preclude common sense safety steps being taken right now, especially because kids are involved here, because sex crimes are most apt to be repeated and because she’s taught for five years, so the chances of there being other victims are higher.
In child sex cases, we must consider the reputation of one adult AND the well-being of multiple kids. And we must always come down on the side of protecting the safety of several youngsters over the privacy of one adult.
This teacher is suspended. But that doesn’t mean kids are safe. If, in fact, she committed these crimes, she used a cell phone to do so and likely still has a cell phone. So we must put the protection of kids first here.
If the Fisher principal is telling the truth, if he reported these alleged crimes promptly, then we applaud his quick and responsible action. But the duty of Catholic officials to safeguard the vulnerable doesn’t end here. Fisher staff and Bishop Frederick Campbell have a duty now to help reach out to others who may have been hurt by this teacher and a duty to help law enforcement determine whether she can be prosecuted. In a word, the Catholic school and church officials have an obligation to do “outreach.”
Besides disclosing the teacher’s name, they should
--disclose where else she worked
--personally visit those schools, urging others to step forward
--mail to all former students, staff and faculty at Fisher who may have encountered her,
--put notices about these allegations in parish bulletins and on church websites, begging anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered her crimes to call law enforcement and get help.
It’s very tough for any child sex abuse victim to speak up. In some ways, it’s especially hard for male victims (in part, because they’re taught to be tough and not express feelings and never be victimized). And it’s especially hard when boys are abused by woman (in part, because fewer adults realize that women can be predators too). So we applaud this brave and smart boy for doing the right thing and telling his parents. And we applaud his parents for doing the right thing and telling authorities.