Information that really doesn't fit anywhere else—In no particular order
Because adults were silent.
Early on, who knows? One teacher who was there said that teachers dating students felt edgy, but not inappropriate.
Sometimes I think people tend to come to this town because it's so quaint-feeling, so town-like, and people want to belong. That's no crime. With that came a sense that one should not disrupt the community. Now, some of the early abusers were hella charismatic, gave adults around them a sense of being part of a community, more than that--part of a visionary company of artists and scholars, as if Paris in the '20s or Big Sur had dropped into a crappy town in the Mid-Atlantic. I think that many adults saw a school that outwardly celebrated play and contemplation, and so felt as if they were part of something bigger than thenselves. Speaking out would have jeopardized their belonging to this big, cool thing.
Many of the people who knew and did not speak out were women. Middle-class women were leaving their homes and entering the workplace for the first time. Perhaps many had never really belonged to anything beyond their homelife. Meanwhile, many of the abusers were tyrants who professed to celebrate freedom. So women involved in the school could have all the trappings of freedom with the comfort of these men, celebrated as brilliant (they weren't), telling them what to do. And there was a culture at the school of not questioning male teachers, one that remained at least into the 2000s, and that perhaps remains today. Certainly the current headmaster seems to want to play Great White Father-Knows-Best. Each letter he sends, I keep expecting him to break out the Kipling.
But why did the silence continue? Because the rich people in this town don't mind child rape as long as their children get a good education and get into a good college. It's also nice to have bragging rights about their child being smart and creative, which is the aura the school grants its students.
Also, the wealth in this town is largely held by men, and the school's tradition of women not questioning men fits the paradigm of wealthy man and wife who doesn't work or who doesn't make even nearly as much. I don't think it's a coincidence that that's the sort of family least likely to have had a child abused.
But a lot of those children were abused, too. I guess no one did the math.
So I decided to do the math. Because Even assholes in mansions deserve a shot at redemption. Because if you can see the pattern, you can choose to walk away.
People who attended the school in the 1970s recall it being fairly open concerning race, but no students of color from that time have spoken to this student. Students from the 1980s and 1990s recall teachers making racial comments and warning white students about black people at the school and black people in general.
Many teachers in the 1980s would quietly tell white students that black students didn't read enough, weren't really academically committed. Faculty made these comments about individual black students and about black people in general, mostly that they didn't read enough.
Some common codes for black people who were encroaching on white people were 'DC people, 'those people from across West St. (West St. was the black/white divide in the nearby town.) 'Drug-dealers in from DC,'' and 'PG County.'
Several black students were celebrated academically in the 1970s, but no one recalls any black students being celebrated academically in the 1980s; even a black student who was a math whiz was siply ostracized for her talent. Another who was an avid reader and writer was never accepted as part of the inner circle of kids known to be good at English. She was allowed and encouraged to follow her own curriculum of African American authors, but behind her back, teachers told other students that she wasn't reading real literature.
In the Lower School in the late 1970s, teachers encouraged students to tease the few black kids there. Two Lower School teachers, 22026-k and 1043 suggested that everyone in a black girl's class be allowed to pet her hair as an educational exercise, the point was to prove to everyone that her hair was soft, not wiry. The teachers had the girl undo one of her twists and allowed a number of people in the class to pet her hair, until she began to cry--the teacher then told her to stand in the corner for not being adult enough about the ordeal.
White students in the Lower School were allowed (and sometimes encouraged) to make fun of the eyes and facial features of the few black girls attending the school; and teachers reassured white students that black students weren't held to the same high standards because there was no point.
There were not many Asian students at 1-sch-L in the 1970s and 1980s. A prominent and beloved Lower School teacher, 22026-k, was half-Asian, and she taught a module on her culture in the Lower School. Students who had her as a teacher, and most did at some point, generally grew up with favorable ideas of Asian cultures in general.
That said, teachers at 1-sch-L often characterized Japanese and Chinese people as being incredibly good at following rules, but culurally lacking in true creativity. Teachers treated one Asian student from the 1980s as almost mentally deficient (he wasn't).
Why teachers who knew that their peers were raping children never spoke out is a mystery. Some of these teachers knew us from when we were little. Knew our siblings. They mentored us and helped us. I remember receiving a huge hug that lasted forever when a friend died. Recently, I put her on the list of people who knew and did nothing. Also on that list is the teacher who created a special tutorial just for me. The mother of my best friend growing up is also there.
One teacher may have stood up about the abuse in the 1970s. He's dead, so we can't know the particulars, but it seems he was fired for speaking out.
It's clear, even now, that they loved us. Why didn't they warn us?
Maybe they wanted the fun of loving a bunch of kids who were raised to be creative, well-read, and a bit snarky without the responsibility of protecting us.
It makes no sense.
Why would parents protect an abuser? Because he was writing their child a college recommendation letter, and not just any recommendation letter, the kind of college recommendation that is caring, thoughtful, shows the teacher really knows the student and thinks they're something special. Many abusers were excellent at writing the sort of college recommendation letter that makes a student stand out as a person of character.
The school churned these out at an alarming rate in the 1980s and 1990s. It was like a little factory really, one aimed at getting students into the best college possible--the best college the school could get the kid into, not necessarily the best college for the kid. A bunch of kids crashed and burned, or were fairly unhappy because the school successfully launched them at places where they had no business being.
Many abusers were also influential mentors. It's hard to go to the administration when the teacher who thinks your kid is wonderful--a teacher, by the way, whom everyone says is brilliant--is rumored to be having a 'dalliance' with a student. Students are reluctant to turn in teachers who are mentoring their friends. They don't want to hurt their buddies, and maybe they'd like some of that mentorship, too.
And if your child's best friend was a bit troubled, say the friend was a bit troubled, and a teacher swooped in to help, to provide an effective alternative father figure, and your child's best friend started turning his life around. It would be easy to ignore rumors if you heard that the same teacher had been seen making out with an underaged girl in a local cafe.Many abusers seem to have mentored the children of board members. Of course, they molested some children of board members, too. But this closeness appears to have offered them a great deal of cover.
Many men who grew up around the abuse seem to suffer as much as adults as women surviors. Many have a pattern of low-paying jobs, addiction, failed relationships, lack of consistent employment, and continuing anger and frustration about what occurred in their childhoods. This is particularly true if, as children, they were friends with or had a romantic teenage interest in a girl who was being abused.
After September 11th, Columbia University's oral history project began taking oral histories of people who had been downtown when the towers fell. Researchers quickly discovered that listening to the stories of survivors produced trauma in the researchers. They began to experience some of the same PSTD symptoms as the survivors they worked with, though at a lesser level. The oral history department labelled this secondary trauma, and took steps to counsel and mitigate its effect.
Technically, men who were around abuse as children are suffering secondary trauma. (People who were abused suffered primary trauma.) But the effects of this secondary trauma on men who attended 1-sch-L appear to be much like the primary trauma of a woman who was abused by one abuser at the school. That bears repeating many men who were around girls who were being abused seem to suffer primary trauma, not secondary. Whether this is a wider phenomenon, or particular to the abuse at 1-sch-L is not known.
Some effects of the as-primary trauma in men are: addiction, poverty or a life of lower middle class wages, trouble maintaining relationships with women, repetative thinking concerning all aspects of the abuse--it's as if they can't get it out of their heads--issues with anger, issues with authority, mild paranoia about authority, the inability to really accomplish anything in life.
Not all men who are witnesses suffer all these symptoms. As with women, they have different levels of resiliency and strength. Below are some issues common to many men who are witnesses:
Some of the men who were witnesses have come forward as ardent supporters of the women survivors who have spoken up. Their help and commitment is cherished.
Most current and former teachers have been silent on the matter of abuse. With one exception, I have not heard of any teachers male teachers who have spoken with survivors about the abuse.
The one former teacher who was intially sympathetic to the cause of the survivors has drawn back a bit. He is politically consevative. Based on FB posts, he appears to have taken issue with survivors who took the side of Christine Blasey Ford in the Kavanaugh hearings.
Abusers in the 1970s hung out on on a street near 3-sch-L, and were involved in performances at 3-sch-L, and were involved in performances at a restaurant near the big church in town. Much of their hanging out on the street near 3-sch-L was at a restaurant wher 3-sch-L students and professors hung out. Many abusers from the 1970s were involved in performance, public art, and music in the town.
The town now has a thriving arts community, and a number of people with long-time ties to the arts community were friends and colleagues of abusers at 1-sch-L. A number of these people have strong political power in the region, to include two locally powerful women lawyers, and possibly two former mayors of the town. One of the lawyers is a local kingmaker in the local Democratic party. The other is a major donor to the school, one who helps encourage others to donate.
This report does not track survivors by number or name.
Most of the survivors who have come forward are women. This is because mostly girls were abused, and many of the boys who were abused died of suicide, alcoholism, accident, or drug abuse (SAAD) as adults. Men who survived abuse at 1-sch-L seem to have had a harder time living with what happened than women who survived abuse. The number of people who died of SAAD subsequent to abuse as children at 1-sch-L may be in the low double digits. Estimates of the number of children abused at 1-sch-L now stands at over 130. This is based on known rates of abuse of the various predators.
In the 1970s, the major limiting factor on the number of students abused was the small size of the school. Most graduating classes had less than 25 students, some had less than 20. The resulted in many children being abused by more than one person. Unfortunately, survivors who were abused by more than one predator appear to have less fortunate outcomes.
People who were abused as children are survivors. That is what almost all survivors like to be called. Victim is insulting to many and should not be used. Men who survived are to be called men, not boys nor male survivors. Women who survived are to be called women, not girls, nor female survivors. Survivors who died of SAAD are sometimes hard to fit into sentences; survivors who did not make it is a reasonable compromise.
People being abused while they are underage are children during that time.
Institutions develop their own language for describing their problems. One former administrator said that 4357 and 3149 'really loved' the students they abused, as opposed to 0311 and 5744, who 'only used' them. As the story comes out, the language has begun to change, but until recently, it was common to hear people who were adults associated with the school in the 1970s and 1980s excuse abuse in cases where the teacher "really loved" the student. Certainly, the community excused cases where a teacher sexually abused a child if that teacher went on to marry her.
At the school, abusers who were prolific and who 'only used' students for sex weren't as alright, but would be tolerated if they were 'brilliant' and inspiring teachers.
Both attitudes--that sexual abuse of children may be tolerated if the man is seen as brilliant, and that sexual abuse of children may be tolerated if the abuser is seen as really loving the child may have been present at the school through the mid-2000s and are still to be found among some alumni and former faculty.
This area is essentially the South. It has some peculiar traditions (aside from racism).
White people who have been in the area for a a few decades will often look for where the Big House in any area is. This refers to the original plantation house and its grounds and outbuildings. They also look out for the family names that go back to plantation days--a good number are still around.
Oddly, a house doesn't have to be ante-bellum to fall into this particular romance of the original mansion. The main house at the school was a summer lodge building in the first part of the 20th century. I believe it occupies the romance of the big house in the minds of many people in the area--though they may not articulate it as such. It feels original and authentic, whatever that means. It has tradition and belongs to the land. The house where 3638 lived in 6-oth-L was also, looking at its structure, no older than Edwardian, but locals refer to it as the big house.
Anyone associated with a big house, whether they live there, or their family used to live there, or they're close to someone who lives in one or to a family that used to live in one (particularly original or old-time owners) automatically has a bit of clout among local white people who've been here awhile. In fact, simply knowing where the big houses are (or were) can convey this clout. I believe part of the school's power is that it associates children--sometimes of families that may not have much local connection or any deep traditions or attachment to history--to a big house. Families that have fairly new wealth may crave this kind of connection to a past that feels more solid than their past
I'm not sure if local people of color are aware of this tradition, but if they are, they must think it insane.
The above observations are entirely my own, but it's something that keeps coming up in conversation.... the big house was over here... he lived in the big house... this family was associated with the big house on... etc.
In the 1970s and 1980s, 2442 and his wife played a major role in the school's outdoor education program. They often brought people from the outside onto school trips to help out. One of these people is known to have abused two children.
It would be a good idea to try to list these people.
It would also be a good idea to see what the school required in the way of background checks and references before letting people onto camping trips in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and into the present day.
It would also be good to know if parents who come along on these trips as chaperones are subject to the same background checks as employees. That could be a hole through which a predator might slip.
Many girl children who were given multiple leading roles in high school plays were also abused. If a child receives more than one leading role in a high school play, her parents should query her and her friends intensely, and probably take her to a psychologist who knows how to ask kids difficult questions.
So much abuse happened in this manner, that the school and parents should monitor all such encounters--requiring faculty to record them. Yes, it's a small town. So what.
Any time the parent of a high school child attending the school died, the remaining parent and their relatives should ensure that the child goes to a psychologist, that the psychologist learns of the school's history of abuse, and the psychologist questions the child thoroughly about any teachers, male or female, but particularly male, who have shown a recent interst in the child. Abusers at the school seem to swoop in on teen children who lose a parent. It's really sick.
The same goes for divorce, but to a lesser degree. However, if the children stay with the mother, and the mother isn't well off, the parents should err on the side of vigilence and have a psychologist question the child.
Early in these inquiries, the surest sign that I needed to talk with someone was that someone who formerly worked with the school called them either a slut or crazy.
I've heard of this shit happening as recently as August of this 2018—calling survivors sluts or cray-cray. It's got to stop.
Men who graduated in the 1980s. Men with sons and daughters call a certain survivor from the 1980s "sexually weird" and imply that she somehow kinda asked for it. She was a kid—and a kid who was probably abused at home, too.
Survivors speak of how being abused at the school means they're called sluts in the town for the rest of their lives. Meaning 40 years later, they're still 'sluts' because some teacher abused them when they were children.
Meanwhile, the adults who knew about the abuse go on about their lives, untouched, sometimes rich, usually comfortable. Where's the shit that should be slung at them?
As for telling people who ask questions to shut-the-fuck-up and get over it, if an adult were sexually abusing your child, wouldn't you be glad for the presence of someone who asked these questions? Who discovered the abuse and decided to yell about it?
If you graduated from the school, stop. Look at your kids. Look at kids you know, if you don't have them. Look. They're kids. Children. Children play, do stupid things, test adult boundaries. That's what they do. It's incumbent upon adults not to take advantage of the situation and fuck them.
I'm not speaking metophorically. Adults are not supposed to fuck children.
Consider the kids you know. Consider your own kids. God in heaven and Jesus Christ forbid, if they were sexually abused, would you want people in their hometown to be calling them sluts into their 60s?
So stop. Stop calling survivors sluts. Stop calling people who ask questions crazy. Stop calling survivors who want truth and justice crazy.
Because, babe, they're making the world a better place for all of us, and sweating tears and blood to do it.
Blood and tears. And if you knew and never said anything, you're a coward.
The people asking questions, saying things—they're heroes.