The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Thursday, July 7, 2011
Victims’ organization blasts abusive educators
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, National Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected])
Shame on Mount Bachelor Academy, and shame on Aspen Education.
Any school’s first priority should be creating a safe, supportive environment for its students. We shouldn’t need state investigations to support this. We shouldn’t need emergency rulings to support this. We shouldn’t need lawsuits to support this. Aspen teachers and staffers recklessly violated this trust over and over again.
We applaud the nine brave students for coming forward with this lawsuit. It takes tremendous courage to speak up against a callous organization that makes hundreds of millions each year from the trust of individual families.
We urge anyone else who saw, suspected, or suffered crimes at Mount Bachelor or any other Aspen Education school to come forward, get help, contact police, expose wrongdoers, and start healing.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])
Nine former students sue over alleged abuse at defunct 'tough love' Mount Bachelor Academy near Prineville
Published: Wednesday, July 06, 2011, 8:06 PM Updated: Thursday, July 07, 2011, 5:55 AM
By Helen Jung, The Oregonian
For one teenager who had been sexually abused as a young girl, schooling at the the Mount Bachelor Academy meant allegedly being forced into provocative role-playing that involved propositioning 15 male students and staff members, one by one.
Another student, an asthmatic, had to sleep outdoors in below-freezing temperatures, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court. Staff members also denied him food, sleep and use of a restroom and withheld his asthma inhaler despite asthma attacks brought on by their tactics, the suit says.
This kind of treatment, according to Portland attorney Kelly Clark, wasn't the exception for the troubled teens enrolled at the now-defunct boarding school that operated east of Prineville for more than 20 years.
The school regularly used humiliation, isolation and other "traumatizing tactics" as part of its therapy to rehabilitate teens, Clark said at a news conference announcing the suit.
The complaint, on behalf of nine former students, seeks nearly $14.3 million from the school and its parent companies, California-based Aspen Education Group and CRC Health Group, for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, battery and negligence.
The school shut down in December 2009, about a month after receiving an emergency suspension order from the state's Department of Human Services, which had investigated abuse allegations over seven months.
The school's parent company on Wednesday issued a statement saying that it has not yet reviewed the lawsuit's claims.
But a lawyer for the company said the state only had one side of the story when it took action against the academy two years ago. Attorney Greg Chaimov said the school later presented evidence that showed the allegations were unfounded, although he conceded the state itself has never issued such a determination.
The settlement shows that the state withdrew its emergency suspension order because the school had already closed.
The school has its fans, including former students who credit the academy for rescuing them from the lives they were leading and putting them on a more productive, successful path.
But successes like those don't negate the harm done to other students who were forced to engage in programs that lacked any apparent therapeutic benefits, Clark said.
The private school, which catered to troubled teens 14 to 171/2 years old, charged $6,400 a month in tuition.
Aspen Education runs several schools for troubled teens around the country. It used to also run the Redmond-based SageWalk Wilderness School, which closed after a 16-year-old Portland boy died of heat stroke during a wilderness hike in August 2009. The state Department of Human Services found that Sagewalk staff had failed to provide proper medical care.
The plaintiffs in the Mount Bachelor lawsuit all attended the school in the late 1990s and had issues including drug and alcohol abuse and criminal behavior. They are now in their mid-20s to early 30s.
Clark and his law firm have pressed hundreds of claims against the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church and the Boy Scouts of America. Clark last year won a nearly $20 million judgment from the Boy Scouts of America on behalf of a sex-abuse victim last year.
But Clark said this lawsuit is different from others he has filed against pedophile priests and scout leaders, because in those cases, "everyone knew this was not supposed to happen," he said.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests