SAN JOSE, Calif. (Jesse Gary/KTVU) - The list of alleged abuse victims at a prestigious San Jose all-girl’s high school continues to grow. Now, 20 former students say they were sexually abused or assaulted while attending Presentation High School.
“I can not understand how they can be a catholic school and respond to victims like this. I can’t. I can’t wrap my head around it,” said Cheryl Hodgin Marshall, who attended the school from 1987-1991.
20 accusers have now come forward, targeting Presentation High School for an internal investigation and sweeping change. This comes after multiple victims who attended the all-girl’s school say administrators did not report instances of sexual abuse and assault by at least eight teachers and coaches – stretching back three decades..
“I reported that the teacher inappropriately touched me, and kissed my hand, and showed me a pornographic picture. That’s reasonable suspicion,” said Kathryn Leehane, who also attended Presentation from 1989-1991.
Leehane says she told school brass about the incident, but nothing was done. She came forward years later only after learning another student was allegedly sexually assaulted by the same teacher.
“We have allegations of a cover-up and violations in mandatory reporting laws. Had the administration listened to the first known report of abuse, which was four years prior to mine, he would have been dealt with,” Leehane said.
KTVU tried to talk to principal Mary Miller, who has been in a leadership position dating back to the earliest allegations, but this reporter was told she was unavailable. Spokeswoman Samantha LoCurto provide a lengthy statement which said in part: “We unequivocally condemn the type of conduct described (in the allegation). The school conducted a investigation more than 30 years ago into Miss Leehane’s complaint. Due to privacy laws, we cannot disclose the details or outcome of that investigation. The allegations being made today are not the same claims that were reported to us in the past.”
“It’s not the schools place to investigate or to look for evidence. It’s their job to report suspicions, or to report when a child reports abuse. And they’re to directly go to law enforcement,” said Leehane.
Leehane and other are now leading a push to pressure Presentation’s board of directors, to investigate school administrators, and if necessary, make sweeping, permanent changes. Some parents say a school known for strong academics may need divine help for its collective soul.
“The systems let us down. So at this point I think all we can really do is pray for the victims. Pray that justice is served,” said Jake Huether, as he waited to pick-up his daughter from an after school program being held at Presentation high.
At least 20 accusers hope they’re journey to justice at their alma mater will protect the next crop of students.
“I don’t know how with this many allegations um, how anything could change without a leadership change,” said Hodgin Marshall.
She says as long as Presentation’s board continues to back the current administration, nothing will change and girls here are at risk.