SAN JOSE, Calif. - Decades after the first complaint, Presentation High School officials admitted Thursday their premier San Jose educational institution failed some of its students.
“I’m relieved. Because it just validated everything I’d been saying for three years,” said former student Kathryn Leehane.
She first penned an op-ed article about her alleged abuse at the school in the 1990s. That led to almost two dozen victims coming forward, who said administrators did not report instances of sexual abuse and assault stretching back more than three decades.
“It just goes to show deep and vast this cover-up was. To think that we started this well over a year ago, and their reaction at the time was to blast the messenger,” said childhood sexual abuse attorney Robert Allard.
In an email, current president Holly Elkins wrote in part, “…Our school did not live up to its commitment to protect you…Words cannot measure our regret or erase the harm that you endured…You were hurt, and we can only hope to make amends by caring for you now…”
Elkins’ admission comes at the conclusion of a nine-month internal investigation by a third-party law firm. Seventy-five former students, teachers and staff were interviewed. Investigators said no current students reported inappropriate behavior. The Report fingers five ex-teachers and one former coach for committing the crimes. It also accuses six additional, unnamed staff, and singles out Mary Miller and Marian Stuckey as past administrators who did not report the cases to authorities, as required by Title-IX.
Elkin’s email continued, “…[This] resulted in failure to adequately investigate or act timely on information which may have led to more immediate and effective responses.”
“What Holly Elkins and presentation did yesterday demonstrated the compassion, the transparency, the accountability that I was looking for,” said Leehane. Added attorney Allard, “In order for full accountability to happen, all those who were involved in this process, going back…decades, they need to be called out and punished.”
Presentation has enacted several changes as a result of the internal investigation, including the creation of a therapy fund for victims of sexual abuse. And strengthening its Title-IX training. It will also remove all references and honors to anyone implicated in acts of sex abuse against students.