Alums accuse Catholic school in San Jose for failing to handle past sex abuse claims

Dozens of people gathered Wednesday night in San Jose over growing concerns an all-girls Catholic high school failed to handle past sexual abuse claims. Former students organized the meeting.

One of the organizers said a teacher touched her inappropriately but the school failed to act. Now, she and other alums are demanding the principal and the president of the school’s board of directors to resign.

The meeting started with a compilation video of former students who said they reported sexual misconduct to Presentation High School administrators and they did nothing.

“After talking to some of the parents and students, it's clear that now everyone knows what's going on,” said Former Student Kathryn Leehane. 

Leehane and Cheryl Hodgin Marshall, both 1991 graduates, hosted this first-ever community meeting.

They said more than 20 accusers have come forward claiming administrators failed to notify authorities about reports of sexual abuse or assault by at least 10 teachers and coaches spanning three decades.

More victims keep coming forward and more witnesses keep coming forward and just when we think it can't get any worse it does,” said Leehane. 

Leehane and Marshall said, the school can't move forward under the leadership of the current principal
and the president of the board of directors. Both are accused of mishandling sexual abuse reports for years.

“By law, which of course as a 16-year-old or 17-year-old I didn't know, from the beginning from the first time I told about it, the police should have been called,” said Marshall. 

A school spokesman sent KTVU a statement that said, “Presentation High School respects the alums who are making these statements and is proud of the strong women they've become, even though we disagree with some of their factual descriptions.”

It went on to say, the school is constantly evolving and adopting best practices to educate students and prevent misconduct, harassment and bullying of any kind. Among new policies this year include an office to prevent harassment and additional mandatory training.

“I’m shocked and saddened that again these predators are being protected,” said Parent Elena Salazar. 

Salazar, who has a son at all-boys Catholic high school Bellarmine, said she attended in hopes to keep all children safe.

The former alums said they attended a mediation with the school's board of directors. They said that meeting ended with no resolution or agreement. San Jose Police is currently investigating if the school followed mandatory reporting laws.