CA--Survivors’ group supports the work of Presentation High alumnae to make their school a safer place
For immediate release Thursday, February 8, 2018
Nearly five thousand former students of Presentation High School in San Jose and their supporters have signed a petition demanding an independent investigation into how the administration handled reported sexual abuse over the past thirty years. To date twenty women allege that they were molested at the prestigious Catholic girls’ school, and eight staff members have been accused. Many of the students say they reported at the time, but administrators failed to contact authorities outside the school as required by law. Despite the growing list of allegations, school officials maintain that all reports were handled properly.
SNAP, the Survivors Network, stands with the brave survivors who have come forward to share their truths about sexual abuse at Presentation. While we have no firsthand knowledge of any of the allegations, we know that empirical studies show that false allegations of abuse are extremely rare.
As mandatory reporters, school officials were required by law to report all allegations to law enforcement, not just those that satisfy some internal standard of “reasonable suspicion.”
While it is not uncommon for school officials to attempt to investigate these reports on their own, they should instead let the professionals do their jobs. Research also shows that internal investigations all too often treat members of their own group favorably. Impartial judgments are unlikely, especially when the investigators have a stake in the outcome.
The Board of Directors and the school administration continue to stand by their past decisions. They claim that many of the allegations were not reported in the past, or today’s reports do not reflect the information provided in the past.
Unfortunately, this is a pattern we have often encountered in cases of institutional abuse. Survivors who muster the courage to speak out are denigrated instead of being thanked for their concern. In almost every case, what ultimately emerges is a longstanding cover-up of sexual abuse that was known by officials.
We commend Kathryn Leehane and the other concerned alumnae for wanting to hold school leadership held accountable. We believe them when they say that they do not want to hurt their former school. We join them in demanding that an independent investigation be launched.
We encourage anyone with information about criminal behavior to report to law enforcement. Those who believe themselves to have been abused can also reach out to support groups like ours or like Make Pres Safe for help and support.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 members. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)