CA--School board is re-traumatizing victims, group charges
School board is re-traumatizing victims, group charges
District argues in court that teacher didn’t abuse kids
But he’s has been criminally convicted of child sexual crimes
Group urges taxpayers to insist that board stop “hardball legal tactic”
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, sex abuse survivors will blast public school officials for claiming that kids were not abused by a child molesting teacher who was convicted for molesting those same kids. The group will also urge the school board to:
-- “stop playing legal hardball and re-victimizing these youngsters,”
--denounce the legal strategy of claiming that victims were not abused,
--apologize for and explain their rationale for making “this intimidating move,” and
--disclose and discipline those who approved this tactic.
They will also beg the public to:
--contact the school board and insist that they “stop re-victimizing these kids,”
Monday, December 7, at 1:30 pm
Outside Mt. Diablo Unified School District offices, 1936 Carlotta Drive (between Las Flores Avenue and Ashdale Drive), Concord
Two-three sex abuse victims who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)
The Mt. Diablo School District says it will defend against a lawsuit by the victims of Joseph Andrew Martin by arguing that the former teacher never abused the children, despite the fact that Martin is serving a 12 year prison sentence for molesting seven boys from Woodside Elementary School.
“Shame on the school board for re-victimizing these already-wounded kids!” said Tim Lennon, the San Francisco director for SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “The boys have shown great courage in reporting their abuse and in testifying in the criminal case. By using the court system to harass these brave kids, the District is actively discouraging other children from reporting abuse. This is not the message a school board should be sending!”
“I urge the school board to reverse course, apologize profusely and discipline those responsible for approving this deplorable tactic,” said Melanie Jula Sakoda, the East Bay Director for SNAP.
SNAP plans to attend the next Mt. Diablo school board meeting and express their concerns. (It’s set for Dec. 7 in the school district board room at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord. According to the posted agenda, it will be called to order at 5:30 pm. Thirty minutes will be allowed for open comments on agenda items following the conclusion of the board’s preliminary business, at approximately 6:30 pm. The lawsuit is item number 3.4 on the agenda for the 7th.)
The survivors group also urges members of the public to either attend the meeting or call or write to the board with their concerns. (Mt. Diablo Unified School District, 1936 Carlotta Dr., Concord, CA 94519, 925-682-8000, Dr. Nelly Meyer is the superindendent. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org)
SNAP hopes that with public pressure, the school board can be convinced to renounce “this appalling strategy and instead focus their time, energy and money on reaching out to any boys who may have been abused by Martin and helping them heal, instead of further traumatizing them.” The group also thinks the district needs to uncover what went wrong in this case, and improve their response to allegations of child sexual abuse.
Lennon concluded, “Anyone who saw, suspected or suffered abuse by Martin should come forward immediately and contact police. No victim should suffer alone and in silence. Speak up and start healing. There are people who will believe you and support you."
(The case is John Does v. Mt. Diablo Unified School District, Contra Costa County Superior Court Action No. C14-00262)
SNAP is the world’s oldest and largest support group for sexual abuse victims. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who suffered abuse in all types of institutional settings, including schools, scouting and the military. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org