“They talked about love in action… Was it true to our convictions, if we did something that was provocative in that sense – and the answer was: What we’re doing is we’re inviting [the southerners, the segregationists] to a response. And we’re holding a mirror to them. And that is the most loving thing you can do. To confront people with the image of who they’ve become as they’ve committed these acts of violence. And it was oriented towards wanting people to be able to be the people they believe themselves to be. And that’s an incredibly loving thing.”
– Lucas Johnson, International Fellowship of Reconciliation http://www.ifor.org
Where in the world has the light of awareness reached?
“Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
End of Week 10: First, in solidarity with all of those who have been fighting for justice and the truth to be known in Pennsylvania Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Cover-ups for so long, we share this from the New York Times, on August 14, 2018 (3 days ago) :
The relevant echoes? “They wanted to cover up the cover-up,” he said.
Which brings us to The Amends Project.
Oh, if you follow print media, and find yourself feeling confused about the word “unreasonable” lately, you might find clarity Here.
Now . . . Onward!
The Power of Honest Conversations
Well, Lawrence Academy officials were strangely silent following the invitation to a Public Response Event on Thursday in Somerville, MA. (Headmaster Dan Scheibe was even reported by school receptionist to be “in and out of the office”, “in a meeting” and “on vacation” – all in the same day!)
Still, the student and supporters went on without them…
In response to interest generated by the event, The Amends Project www.theamendsproject.com is hosting a follow-up gathering with a new theme. Good things come from honest conversations. So, Facilitators are now inviting concerned families to have an open forum with alumni & associates from Lawrence Academy about these issues. Come learn about the Justice CORPS proposal and more.
All families deserve the reassurance that, if anything happened to their child at school, the needs and well-being of the child would absolutely come first.
What is the biggest issue here? The quality of response from school leaders when human rights violations are suffered by students under their care.
What is the purpose of these meetings, and the Amends Project overall? It is 3-fold: 1. to bring the truth to light. 2. to hold school leaders to account. 3. to enact lasting, positive change.
Thursday August 23, 2018
5:30 – 6:30 pm
The Green Room
62 Bow Street, Prospect Hill
Somerville, MA 02143
Kindly RSVP to: email@example.com to confirm your seat (limited to 25 / 35 with standing room)
This event is Free and open to the public. For a press pass (available to reporters and bloggers in advance – limited to 3), email: firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday August 21, 2018.
Craving some relevant information to help you in steering your kids towards healthy sexuality in the meantime? A recently published piece by Vanessa Osage, “Speaking Reverence, Speaking Truth” Enjoy!
Week 10: Public Response Event Tonight!
Thursday August 16, 2018
6 – 7 pm
62 Bow Street, Prospect Hill
Somerville, Massachusetts 02143
Open to the press, and the public, a chance to ask questions, share concerns and contribute to positive change. Seating is limited to 25. Arrive early to arrange for parking and to get a seat. Fifteen minutes of introductions, followed by questions. Overseen by a local facilitator. Look forward to seeing you there!
Burdensome choice is now Lawrence Academy’s
When I was 16, Lawrence Academy in Groton put me in a horrible position. Even more than failing to protect me from the child molester I had just confronted; even more than removing my sense of place and derailing my education, I was given the burdensome choice between allowing their decisions or honoring my conscience.
This is what honoring my conscience looks like: www.theamendsproject.com.
In 1994, Lawrence Academy decided to keep a documented child molester on campus after two students gave matching testimonies. In 2016, the school asked sex misconduct victims to step forward. Now, officials choose to “disagree” about any wrongdoing and are directing attention to a new investigation.
The choice to not settle with a former student, but instead hire private investigators to create an internal report to mitigate risk, is a clear message about the school’s priorities.
Any funds offered, (3.75 percent of the attorney’s demand), come from the coffers of a public-interest institution and do not affect the personal finances of the decision makers. By contrast, everything the student puts into seeking repair is at direct, personal expense.
It is time to resolve the persistent conflict of interest between Lawrence Academy to preserve a reputation — and of students and families for safety and protection. This is why I propose, and have created a model for, a Justice CORPS — the Committee to Oversee the Rights & Protections of Students.
My goal is to create a system that relieves my burden of addressing the wrongs done by an institution where adults within continually choose to do nothing. At 16, I made it my job to see that no further students would be harmed here in the same way. I need to hand over my burden now. I am ready for resolution.
Vanessa Osage, ’96
End of Week 8: What does Lawrence Academy say to accountability this week? No, thanks.
Today we have a lesson about words that start with the letter “D”.
First, a quick review:
Two Lawrence Academy students share accounts of a similar pattern of abuse by a school employee. One student later approaches the leader of the school to ask what will be done. The answer is, “If it happens again, he’ll have to go”. She approaches again soon after, urging that something be done. At the end of the year, the student learns there is no financial aid available for her return. Her sister, also a student, is financially supported to return and she is not. The following year, the child molester remains employed, living on campus (for another 7 years following), and the student who spoke up is not there.
Current administrators now refer to this as a “disagreement”. Let’s look more closely at language, shall we?
Webster’s Dictionary offers this: disagreement /ˌdɪsəˈgriːmənt/ noun, plural disagreements
Learner’s definition of DISAGREEMENT
1 a [noncount] : failure to agree
▪There’s been a lot of disagreement about/on/over how best to spend the money.
▪He has expressed disagreement [=he has said that he disagrees] with some aspects of the proposal.
b [count] : a difference of opinion : an argument caused by people having different opinions about something
▪We’ve had a number of serious disagreements [=disputes, arguments] over the years.
▪Several disagreements have yet to be resolved.
Now, let’s contrast this word, as it relates to the above paragraph, with the word “denial”.
Again, from Webster’s: denial /dɪˈnajəl/ noun, plural denials
Learner’s definition of DENIAL
1 [count] : a statement saying that something is not true or real : a statement in which someone denies something
▪She issued a flat/absolute/outright denial of the charges made against her.
▪The accusations have met with angry denials from school officials.
▪The city government has been heavily criticized for its denial of the seriousness of the situation.
▪his denial of responsibility
2 [noncount] psychology : a condition in which someone will not admit that something sad, painful, etc., is true or real
▪I think she’s still in a state of denial about her husband’s death. [=she still has not fully accepted that her husband is dead]
— often used in the phrase in denial
▪He’s in denial about his drinking problem. [=he will not admit that he drinks too much alcohol]
Which word more accurately describes the school’s response to what has happened?
Also this week, a new public statement is issued from Lawrence Academy about a new claim of child sexual abuse by Peter Regis. A police report is made and investigators are hired. Notably, a marked change in tone and approach is implemented.
Again, for a quick review… Following start of the public phase of the Amends Project, the school issued a statement on May 18, 2018 with these words:
“It is fair to say, however, that the school is not in full agreement with several claims that are made in the alumna’s account.”
This sentiment was echoed this week in a private response from headmaster Dan Scheibe to the student, regarding a proposal for a new accountability system as well as acknowledgement and resolution:
“…the board cannot accept your proposal as we still disagree with some of your conclusions.”
Ok. Take a moment here to pause and digest that . . . Now, let’s reference two other relevant “D” words. Again, from Webster’s:
Definition of discredit
1: to refuse to accept as true or accurate : disbelieve
- discredit a rumor
2: to cause disbelief in the accuracy or authority of
- a discredited theory
Definition of dismiss
1: to permit or cause to leave
- dismiss the visitors
- Class is dismissed.
2: to remove from position or service : discharge
- dismissed the thievish servant
3a : to reject serious consideration of
- dismissed the thought
How do these words relate to the response of the school to the student’s coming forward? To the first public statement? Efforts toward resolution?
Reference to the past also showed a striking contrast. From the May 18 statement regarding the Amends Project:
“Sadly, we cannot change the events or acts of the past.”
From the statement of July 26, regarding the surfacing of new, similar allegations:
“…we must learn as much as we can about what happened in our past so that we can face matters squarely today…”
Also from July 26: “The more information Lawrence Academy has, the more effective we can be in responding to alumni who may have experienced misconduct while here…”
How effective has the response been so far? (hint)
What is the school’s goal in gathering these facts? Once sufficiently achieved… then, what? If an institution hires investigators to compile an internal report, do they also get editing rights?
Most importantly – what is the lesson? What is the lesson and when will we know that school leaders have learned it?
Response. The root of Responsibility, the one thing that is always within our power. The place where we can make the greatest impact. Honest, humble, accountable, supportive, consistent, trustworthy Response.
The last “D” word is offered here for open-ended interpretation.
diversion (dĭ-vûrˈzhən, -shən, dī-)
n.The act or an instance of diverting or turning aside; deviation.
n.Something that distracts the mind and relaxes or entertains.
n.A maneuver that draws the attention of an opponent away from a planned point of action, especially as part of military strategy.
We can do so much better here. Isn’t it time? Wouldn’t it restore balance, trust, safety alignment of word/action, integrity, honor, respect and more?
From this week’s statement from Lawrence Academy:
“This sense of care is our fundamental mission, based in trust and responsibility.”
Let’s get there.
Week 8: The student invites Lawrence Academy to participate in a pilot program, The Justice CORPS – Council to Oversee the Rights & Protections of Students. This accountability system would provide a confidential communication tool for students to report human rights violations to a diverse group of adults outside of and non-affiliated with the institution. After being advised of their rights and options, students and families would have the benefit of advocacy and oversight, as well as a third party to aid in communications back to the school. Participating schools would then have a Justice CORPS ranking, available for public review and consideration by families.
The student awaits acceptance of her proposal, in addition to resolution terms, this week.
Reassured by the promise of a new safeguard for students’ rights? Sign Here!
So, what is Accountability? From Assad Schuitema’s Human Excellence Group, comes this excerpt:
“Practically accountability involves, among other things, the ability to own up to your mistakes, both to yourself and to others. Mistakes happen, that is a fact of life. There are however different ways in which we can respond to mistakes. The accountable person responds to his/her mistakes by acknowledging them and then doing all he/she can to rectify the mistake. This is why an accountable person is trustworthy with responsibilities. When they mess up, they will tell you and will do what they can to fix it.
“A person who is not accountable however will not be able to own up to his/her mistakes. Such a person will play the blame game, trying to offload responsibility onto someone else instead of carrying the burden oneself. Such a person of course cannot be trusted with responsibilities because when they make a mistake you can expect a cover up rather than efforts to fix it.
“But what are the benefits of owning up to your mistakes? I will list 3 of what I take to be the most important.
1. Solutions come quicker: The person who is in the best position to understand a problem is the one who caused it. . . . By not owning up to your mistakes there is the possibility that they can become serious problems. Also, if problems come to light and there are people playing the blame game this will also, naturally, impede the resolution of the issue. There can be no solution when individuals are trying to pin the problem on someone else.
2. You learn through your mistakes:
Your last mistake is your best teacher. . . . If you want to learn from your mistakes you have to own up and admit them. It is only once you have admitted your mistake that you will learn from it.
3. You will earn the respect of others:
As Bruce Lee says, every mistake is always forgivable, as long as you have the courage to admit it. People for the most part are forgiving when you make mistakes. They become harsh only when you try to cover them up.
Most often however people are not only forgiving when you own up to your errors, they actually develop a deep respect for you when you do. Owning up to your mistakes shows courage and accountability and these are things we instinctively respect in people. We cannot help but respect the person we think is courageous and accountable.
So, by being accountable to ourselves and others by owning up to our mistakes, we are helping to ensure that they are quickly fixed, that we learn from them, and that we earn respect in the process.”
Week 6: Pop Quiz!: Name the character from The Story who most closely matches the description in bold below.
There are three elements to most aiding and abetting charges against an individual. The first is that another person committed the crime. Second, the individual being charged had knowledge of the crime or the principals\’ intent. Third, the individual provided some form of assistance to the principal. An accessory in legal terms is typically defined as a person who assists in the commission of a crime committed by another or others. In most cases, a person charged with aiding and abetting or accessory has knowledge of the crime either before or after its occurrence. A person who is aware of a crime before it occurs, and who gives some form of aid to those committing the crime, is known in legal terms as an “accessory before the fact.” He or she may assist through advice, actions, or monetary support. A person who is unaware of the crime before it takes place, but who helps in the aftermath of the crime, is referred to as an “accessory after the fact.”
Punishments for accessories vary in different jurisdictions. Sometimes accessories have had lesser punishments than principals. Other times, accessories are considered to be principals. Common law traditionally considers an accessory just as guilty as the principal in a crime, and therefore subject to the same penalties.
Send your answers to: email@example.com
. . . If we normalize secrecy and control, it will surely continue. Acknowledging what happened honestly and making it right is a crucial step toward recovery for all. Accountability absolutely keeps kids safer. Remember to sign and share!
Dear New England Residents,
I write you today with a mix of relief, frustration and concern. My name is Vanessa Osage and I am the former student seeking amends from Lawrence Academy. First, I thank you for your attention to this story. As a sexuality educator, consultant/coach and leader of a mission-driven business, I care about this today for a number of reasons.
First, we must understand that sexual abuse and/or harassment do not happen in a vacuum. They are perpetrated by abusers, bystanders and enablers. When someone turns away or supports structures that allow abuse, these players are also accountable. In this story, I suggest, the key players are even more accountable than a man who was ill and acting out.
I have been asked by Lawrence Academy, on numerous occasions over the course of decades, to be a silent accomplice to these crimes. I will not. Not when they send me away, not when they attempt to control my message, not when they offer pocket change amends, but only if I am quiet about it.
I speak now, as I did then, because the bigger picture of these abuses matters. How every one of us responds to these issues matters. I have created a website where you may direct your energy into action: www.theamendsproject.com
We always have a voice. There is always a clear and nondestructive path to justice. I invite you to join me.
Love & Truth Rising
A Mission to Positively Transform Love, Sexuality & Human Connections
Working in the field of sexual health and positive social change for nearly a decade, and currently writing a book about sexual maturity in America. See website for more information.
Also, if you are an attorney, child advocate or policy-maker, and would like to talk about collaborating to create new “cover up crime” laws, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Week 4: A powerful Editorial is issued in the Lowell Sun, bringing light to the reality of sending away a press reporter from covering graduation on Friday June 1: http://www.lowellsun.com/editorials/ci_31921585/lawrence-academy-private-boarding-school-groton-set-new
To quote Matthew Kelly, internationally acclaimed author & business consultant, “This involves owning up to who we are, who we have been… and how we have failed. This journey liberates us to be able to say, “I messed up”. This is a significant advance in any relationship. Because if we are unable to admit that we have messed up in the past, we are unlikely to be too good at admitting when we mess up today.”
How does this impact the students of today? The faculty who seek to make their living by teaching and guiding young people?
There is a way to cleanse this wound. Many, many are watching and waiting.
End of Week 3: After hundreds in the region were called on to attend graduation, simply wearing yellow to symbolize a new day of honesty & accountability, a Lowell Sun reporter was turned away from covering yesterday’s ceremony:
The effort it takes to block truth and uphold a lie is always greater that the effort it would have taken to admit, cleanse and resolve the truth of the situation in the first place.
Whom do we admire and trust more? One who says, “I did nothing wrong! They were wrong and, look, I’ve been so good in these other ways…” – or – “Geez, I really made a mistake there. I was scared (uncertain/fearful/etc) and wasn’t my best self. I apologize. What can we do to make this right?”
Great words deserve to be verified by great action. Can one sing their own praises, claiming traits of responsibility and trust and convince others simply by their words? To quote R. Buckminster Fuller: “Integrity is the essence of everything successful.”
Start of Week 3: Rick Sobey publishes a feature article in the Sunday Lowell Sun: http://www.lowellsun.com/breakingnews/ci_31904793/nightmare-without-end
This needs to end the way all nightmares end – we wake up!
A call to all in the greater Boston area to attend high school graduation on Friday, June 1 simply wearing yellow, to signify the new day, where all leaders are held accountable.
A simple, non-threatening gesture to say, “We see this, and we want it to end”. Coming out of denial is the first step in every 12-step Recovery Program. The concern is – if they won’t admit now to the ways they covered up these crimes in the past, the tendency to hide a wrongdoing could play out again, in some other form…
As the sun rises, all is revealed. In the light of awareness, there is nothing to hide and true recovery is possible. Sign above with a comment that says, “I will wear yellow!”. We can all truly contribute to this larger awakening.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same mind we used when we created them.”
The fundamental “disagreement” between the current administration and the student is clearly established: That the student asked for help, and received none; that someone from within the school then revoked only her financial aid (and not that of her sibling), preventing her return for the 1994-95 school year; that, in order to return, she would have to accept special restrictions.
That she remained in contact with Steve Hahn from 1997 – 2001, by letter and in person, urging him to take right action may or may not be disputed.
The root level mindset which informs, ‘Do whatever we can to preserve the image of the school at all costs, even to the student’s well-being or safety’, shows itself to be alive and well in the actions of last week.
The student calls on Headmaster Dan Scheibe to enact a fundamental mindset shift to one that now says, ‘The school did this. It was wrong. Let’s make it right’.
Steps are clearly outlined, and delivered with a request for acceptance in time for announcement of conclusion at the graduation ceremony on Friday June 1, 2018.
End of Week 1: Current Headmaster R Daniel Scheibe sends a letter to all faculty and staff in defense of the information circulated on The Amends Project website. In it, he perpetuates lies that had been hand-written by former Headmaster, Steven L Hahn in the 1990’s. Dan Scheibe had been aware of their untruth before choosing to utilize them in this format.
Most notably, he also makes an ethics violation by sharing details of the abuse to all current faculty and staff without the consent of the former victims. The issue of breach of confidentiality agreement for the Restorative Justice Circle is called into question.
Guidelines put forth by the School Counselors Association regarding the handling of sexual abuse details also states: “The need-to-know rule requires school counselors reveal sensitive information only when the recipients of the information has a need to know and is in a position to benefit the student if they have the shared information.”
Poignant. Now, every member of the Lawrence Academy faculty and staff has been placed in a uniquely strong position to benefit the student. Let’s consider this an invitation to sign:
Week 1: The Amends Project viewed by 274 people – including over a dozen national and regional (New England) accrediting boards, schools, youth & justice organizations – in seven countries around the world! Signatures inch toward the 100 mark.
New, second petition added through Care2.com with the option to sign anonymously.
“If we are to be really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world. We cannot avoid meeting great issues. All that we can determine for ourselves is whether we shall meet them well or ill.” — Theodore Roosevelt