Catholic School Withholds Identity of Teacher Under Investigation for Sexual Misconduct

The school has yet to notify parents of his identity, over a week after he was placed on leave.

Jackie Thornhill
Aug 24, 2017 · 4 min read
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Chaminade College Preparatory

Note: This post originally appeared with the teacher in question’s name published in the subtitle and throughout the article. Five days after it was published, I was contacted by Medium support and asked to either remove his name from the post or remove the post entirely. I have decided to keep the post up while removing the name, as it has already circulated more than sufficiently to serve its intended audience of parents and potential additional victims, and ought to remain as a record of Chaminade’s decision to protect the identity of the teacher at the cost of doing its basic due diligence to ensure no other students engaged in inappropriate, potentially illegal, and inherently abusive relationships with the teacher.

On August 15, Chaminade College Preparatory — a private Catholic school in Canoga Park, CA — placed a teacher on leave pending an investigation into allegations that he “carr[ied] on an inappropriate student relationship more than five years ago.”

According to local news and a letter sent home to parents, the school is in possession of “credible evidence” that the teacher engaged in at least one inappropriate relationship with a student from Chaminade’s 2011–12 senior class.

The school opted not to name the teacher in its letter to parents and local news reports indicate that authorities have not yet confirmed his name.

Some parents have expressed concern that Chaminade is withholding information about the identity of a teacher who is under investigation by child protection authorities, potentially obstructing an invaluable window of opportunity for parents to talk to their children about the incident or for other victims to come forward.

Parent Lily Desilva said, “I didn’t know. It’s a surprise for me. I just saw my daughter, but I never heard anything about it.”

Students agree that despite the administration’s short-sighted stonewalling, it's no secret on campus who the teacher in question is, with his identity having become common knowledge in recent days and his absence noticeable.

I spoke to numerous current and former students of varying grade levels on background, who all agreed unanimously on the identity of the teacher in question, and noted that he has not been at school since August 15 — the date Chaminade says they placed the accused teacher on leave. His name also coincidentally disappeared from a faculty directory on the school’s website.

Local cable news outlets wasted no time arriving outside Chaminade the first day after the school’s disclosure, to speak to parents and students. One student I spoke to reported that school officials asked them not to share information with the press.

Chaminade is obviously in PR-crisis mode at the moment, which seems to be causing them to miss the bigger picture and self-inflict unnecessary damage —it’s never a good look to be this opaque when addressing inappropriate student-teacher relations, especially as a Catholic school.

Chaminade is still trying to contain a situation that is simply out of the administration’s hands. When asked, the president of Chaminade’s Board of Directors, Rob Webb, neglected to categorically deny the name of the teacher that has become common knowledge and said:

“Chaminade does not comment on personnel matters, therefore I can neither confirm nor deny the name of the teacher involved. While I understand the desire for full disclosure, I have the responsibility as president of Chaminade to handle sensitive personnel matters with utmost professionalism and within the constraints of the law.”

“I will continue to evaluate my position as new information becomes available. I want to assure you that we take this matter very seriously and are cooperating fully with local law enforcement in their investigation.”

“As a Chaminade alum, you can certainly understand how painful this devastating news has been to our entire school community. We ask for your continued prayers for all those impacted by this situation, as well as our entire school community.”

Along with his emailed statement, Webb also included a copy of the letter sent to parents, which notes that “inappropriate physical conduct by the teacher did in fact occur,” and, “appropriate child protection and law enforcement agencies were contacted.”

In addition to echoing Webb’s sentiment that “we cannot publicly discuss personnel matters,” the letter asserts that, “the care and well-being of our students is of the utmost priority at Chaminade,” and, “we are committed to providing a safe learning environment at our school.”

Webb did not respond to a follow up request to comment regarding whether his initial statement means that parents of students who were in class with the teacher were notified of his identity, following his dismissal and the school’s finding that he “did in fact” engage in “inappropriate physical conduct.”

If any other Chaminade students have firsthand knowledge of the teacher’s behavior that might be of help to law enforcement in their investigation, they should not hesitate to call the LAPD and speak out.

According to local news, “The Los Angeles police confirmed there is now an open investigation into the allegations, but they could not provide more details.”

If any students have engaged in an inappropriate relationship with the teacher, or been the victim of abuse, it is crucial to report these incidents as soon as possible and stand in solidarity with the student who had the courage to launch this investigation.

For victims of abuse in need of resources, the National Sexual Assault Hotline is also staffed 24/7 and can be reached at 1–800–656–4673.

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