Why would a school keep a child molester employed and remove the child victim?
The most commonly asked question.
How could this happen?
Too many people stayed silent and agreed by their complacency to accept the situation.
What and where is Lawrence Academy?
Lawrence Academy is an elite, college-preparatory high school in Groton, Massachusetts, 35 miles northwest of Boston. Founded in 1793, it enrolls about 400 students and has a current annual (one year) tuition of $62,550. It was ranked 43rd out of 50 New England boarding schools in 2018.
Who is Peter Regis?
Peter Regis, pictured here in 1995, the year he was allowed to stay on staff after reports of child sexual abuse had been documented. He is living and in his 60’s.
What happened to Steve Hahn?
Steven Hahn ended his tenure as headmaster in 2002, the year following the speech in the Lawrence Academy auditorium. He went on to become head of school at Portledge School in New York state. He is currently retired.
What about the other student, the friend?
The two former students remain very close friends. Though living on opposite sides of the country, they catch up at least twice a year and have a great valuing of one another.
Well, because the school asked, in their 2016 article in The Lowell Sun. On a more significant level, this is unfolding now because the reality has finally come into the light of awareness to be met by a wave of resistance like never before. If the truth could not be seen in the 1990’s, when the student was 16, 19, 20, 21, 22 or 23, it is bright and clear now.
Fun Fact: Omnibus Lucet is the latin motto for Lawrence Academy, meaning, “The Light Shines for All”
How will this project move forward? What makes it unique?
Operating outside the legal system, the Amends Project will bring about positive change by the following tenets:
- There will be no further exploitation on the way toward resolution, no participation in approaches or actions that allow for further harms.
- Success by means of fear/control is no success at all.
- Situations will be influenced only by the sheer power of honesty, a fierce insistence on accountability, and the encouragement toward true growth and positive change.
- The project will only conclude when school leaders can admit to the cover-up, thereby coming out of denial, and making space for adopting new protocols; This shifts the fundamental priorities from preserving a reputation to unfailingly protecting the rights of all students and families.
- This is for everyone.
What am I contributing to by signing the petition or donating to the GoFundMe?
First, you are contributing to the strength of voices who are willing to speak up together for what is right. Signing sends a message that, when leaders attempt to cover up a crime against children, the choice is seen and called to account. It signifies a willingness to expect honesty, responsibility and accountability from those in whom we place our trust.
You also help confirm that there are many ways to achieve a goal – and moving forward on ethical grounds can, in fact, yield positive results.
What are the goals of the project?
1. to bring the truth to light.
2. to hold school leaders to account.
3. to enact lasting, positive change.
How will that happen?
- People with these insights Speak and Speak and Speak – regardless of consequences, backlash or denial. (The Student has since received numerous accounts of similar abuses, cover-ups, sendings-away at Lawrence Academy from the 1990’s to -yes- 2016)
- Coming out of denial is the first step in every Recovery Program. Therefore, continuing to insist that school officials recognize and acknowledge there is and has been a cover-up problem.
- Gestures of true reparation. This is not just for the student – though the school doing right by her has to be part of it – this is for every young person who has experienced the compounded wounded of being pressured into silence, not-pressing-charges, intimidation/removal – after suffering abuses at any institution.
- The willingness of school leaders to learn from their mistakes and adopt a broad-reaching new policy of external oversight, such as the student’s Justice CORPS Proposal 7.22.18
What exactly needs to be amended?
- The choice to keep a child molester employed for 7 years (1994-2001), despite the pleading of the student for right action.
- Revoking her financial aid, and preventing her return to campus.
- Releasing the perpetrator on “permanent, long-term disability” in 2001, once Lawrence Academy headmaster Steve Hahn knew the student was coming to speak the truth; failing even then to be forthright in the reasons for the man’s removal.
- The choice by Dan Scheibe (and likely Bruce MacNeil) to frame the speech of 2001 as a “good faith effort at repair” by the school; Abusing language in such a way that an institution which sanctified abuse attempts to take credit for years of effort and activism by the young student.
- The choice by Dan Scheibe (and likely Bruce MaNeil) to make sexual abuse details public in a far-reaching statement, without the consent of former victims. In doing so, blatantly disregarding the Confidentiality Agreement of the Restorative Justice Circle of March 1, 2018; Continuing to abuse language by referencing privacy when it allows the truth to be hidden, while taking actions that voilate for privacy when it may serve administrators/trustees.
- Denying the press at graduation on June 1, 2018; instilling distrust in the greater community.
- The choice by Dan Scheibe to stop all communications with the student, following an invitation to a public response event on August 16, 2018. Asking the receptionist to lie and tell the student that he was, “in and out of the office”, “in a meeting”, and then, “Oh, I mean, on vacation”, all in the same day.
- The choice by Bruce MacNeil to deny any communications with the student about the invitation, and instead make defaming comments to the press – as a way to draw attention away from their unwillingness to participate; Denying her request for a phone conversation following (the two are yet to ever speak, and have not met).
- Misusing donor resources by investing large sums into attorney fees and internal investigations; Refusing transparent settlement while preserving conditions that allow future harms to go unseen, unaddressed and unresolved.
- Denying justice by stalling justice. (October 2018 marks two years since Lawrence Academy asked sex misconduct victims to come forward).
What is Restorative Justice?
An alternative to the judicial system, used independently or in conjunction with legal proceedings, Restorative Justice provides a human-centered approach to repairing harm. As a worldwide movement, it has been used effectively to address a range of cases for over 35 years. Please visit the Resources page for more information. Of special importance is Point One North, the work of Saroeum Phoung, who contributed to arranging the Restorative Justice Circle at Lawrence Academy on March 1, 2018.
Why is a new policy or system necessary? Dan Scheibe says they have a similar communication system in place?
If the information stays within the school, then the problem just gets recycled. Similar to the internal investigation, when the school hires a firm or pays for a service they – as the consumer – have ultimate authority on what happens with that information. The chance to know and do nothing stays firmly in place.
While it may appear as a safeguard, we have to ask ourselves who is overseeing the information and what do they have at stake? What does this achieve?
The Justice CORPS not only receives information, and advises on a student’s rights. They as act a witnessing buffer between a vulnerable child and a heavily-endowed institution. (In 2014, the Lawrence Academy endowment was estimated at $26 million – making the settlement request of the student 1/52 of endowment funds). The CORPS helps to balance the scales, and is freer to place the rights of a student at the very top of their priorities.
Tell us more about The Justice CORPS.
The Committee to Oversee the Rights and Protections of Students (CORPS)
An oversight system, consisting of strictly non-affiliated adults outside the school, to receive reports of human rights violations at college-preparatory schools. Their role is to track this information, compile it in annual reports, and contribute to a ranking system – available to all parents considering making this large investment in higher education.
Once a report is received, the student and their family may meet with the CORPS to learn of their rights and understand all options for moving forward. No police report is filed without the consent of the student; and no student can be intimidated into not filing, as officials do not learn of the student’s contact with the CORPS until a strict procedure is followed.
It is the CORPS itself that communicates back to the school, once a child and family have understood their rights, and decided the best steps for them, moving forward.
Schools may be fined up to $25,000 for any request or suggestion to a young person to remain silent about what happened.
As schools strive to maintain a high Justice CORPS ranking, we expect the incidence of unseen human rights violations at private institutions to drop dramatically over time.
The initiative is still in its planning and research phase. Stay tuned to the homepage of the site, for information on events to engage the public through The Power of Honest Conversations Series in the Greater Boston area. www.theamendsproject.com