[Update #3: Headmaster Kagei has issued another letter dated Oct 4 to parents and staff. Some of you may have already seen it on FB or the SMIS site. The letter talks about how Kagei has spoken with some victims and was “distressed” to hear the accounts of sexual abuse. Yes, Mr. Kagei, just hearing of them is horrible–imagine experiencing them and being haunted by them for life. Mr. Kagei will identify a panel and launch yet another investigation. But who will lead these panels: SMIS payrollees who may have been abusers themselves? Or staff that have interest in silencing the stories that have ruined the only institution on their resumes for the past 30 years? Btw, what ever happened with the Archbishop’s and the police’s investigations that Kagei spoke of in the January letter? Why is there no update on those fronts after 9 months? Why didn’t Mr. Kagei write just now that these accounts will be submitted to police? Mr. Kagei needs to report on the results from actual authorities who have the power to enact consequences for these crimes. If there is nothing to report from the police, either one of two things happened: the school has not seriously engaged the police by providing evidence at all or the police were not interested. In either case, parents cannot be satisfied that some in-house panel and improvised policies will be enough to protect their sons from one of the worst crimes possible, from a school and jurisdiction that obviously have been unable to redress past multiple occurrences of it. Tuition money has gone toward paying for the retirement comfort of these abusers in Japan and Canada. Finally, we need to learn of pertinent details to audit the efficacy of future policies: where on campus were these boys abused? How were these boys separated from their class and led behind closed doors? Did any of these boys say something at the time–and if so, how did their voices die off in the system? This blog has long side-eyed the school’s practice of taking things behind closed doors, and of setting up their own panels to get the result they want–it is a classic d#$% move by admin. This new “solution” isn’t any more transparent or open to public scrutiny than anything we’ve already seen. But we are glad there has been a response. Down the path that the community is headed now, there is nowhere to hide the truth.]
[Update #1: Headmaster Saburo Kagei has sent out this Sept 11 2014 response to alumni regarding the matter of sexual abuse at the school written about in the January 2014 letter. A main point of Mr. Kagei’s latest letter is that Br. Lawrence had actually written an apology to the victim who had come forward, thus acknowledging his role in the sexual abuse. This doesn’t sound like “an allegation”, it sounds like a criminal confession by a St. Mary’s admin who committed the worst possible betrayal of trust against a child. What did the school do to bring this crime to justice? Some people in our community learned that Br. Lawrence had briefly been transferred to a sister school in Shizuoka, when this was found out, exposing Japanese children to this matter, which their families wouldn’t have known about. Mr. Kagei has now written that Br. Lawrence has simply moved away. The school is asking (in earnest) for information on any other St. Mary’s staff predators past and present. How can we be sure that this information would be treated with any kind of severity? The school needs to acknowledge that the era of the status quo admin is over. Their culture is one of hiding and confounding problems until they become epically bad. To convincingly show the school community that it is dedicated to a new era of accountable management, the entire admin needs to be replaced.]
Well, there it is. A great piece by Simon Scott of the Japan Times, built upon the accounts of St. Mary’s International School’s sexual abuse survivors both named and anonymous. Despite the school and the Archdiocese of Tokyo failing to comment on the matter (note: even the admin of ASIJ responded in their case), the story is out and in circulation. As it should be–for the community to acknowledge and solve going forward.
If the school remains silent, it will be met with the silence of families who will no longer be willing to pay for such unaccountability in a matter so crucial to the education of children.
Much respect to abuse survivor Mr. Arboleda, whose compassion to empower future generations of children to identify and speak of such abuse, has meant for him to unearth unsettling memories. This is surely something difficult for anyone to do, and I’d say even more so for a grown man in our society. Men are expected to internalize all kinds of emotional turmoil. I suspect it is largely the reason the ASIJ case, led my so many female abuse survivors, was acted upon in a faster, more decisive way. The Alumni at St. Mary’s probably have had to work through an invisible, but thick, layer of social stigma against men revisiting emotional and psychological pain. Not to mention the Japanese culture, isolated international school culture and Catholic culture all embedded, all at work, in addition! All the more reason it has been hugely important for Mr. Scott, Mr. Arboleda and “Mr. Smith” to bring this story forth.
One correction we’d make to Mr. Scott’s reporting, is that while this site was certainly put together during Ms. Tran’s first case against the school over labour matters, it was set up by a community of people who helped translate, attend court hearings, secure legal papers, blog and vet comments.
We have Mr. Michael DiMuzio and Linda Wayne, of the St. Mary’s Admin, actually, to thank for the existence of this blog.
Without such monumental egotism, middle-manager paranoia, abuse of power, denial and obstinacy toward Ms. Tran and in other dealings within the community, we never would have been inspired to carry on like this 🙂
Ms. Tran by the way, flew to Japan this August to testify against Gregory Strong, the friend and arguable revenge foot-soldier of Linda Wayne in the university teaching industry, at the Yokohama District Court. It was the first time Ms. Tran and Mr. Strong had ever met. While, like all cases, this will likely go down in a settlement, it’s nice to know that there are all kinds of people willing to stand up to abusers of power.
Abuse of power, denial and obstinacy in one small case, is a sign of much more behind the scenes. Like seeing a cockroach. Glad we could be part of the fumigation.