If we weren’t sure before, we are now: the admin at St. Mary’s never did call the police about the rape of one of its boys by a former Elementary School Principal. It was only a lie the admin told of action and accountability for one of the worst crimes imaginable on school campus, and against a child. Associated Press Reporter Yuri Kageyama straight-up asked the police if they had ever even heard of this case:
School officials say they reported the chapel rape allegations to Tokyo police when the victim approached them in 2013. Yet Tokyo police spokesman Satoru Matsunaga said there were no records of the case in their files and no investigation is ongoing.
So, it is confirmed: that lie, that letter from the headmaster, and the convening of that ridiculous and useless “independent panel” of self-help gurus and lawyers etc. had only been done in a fit of PR face-saving—not in any protection of children in the school’s care. The fact is, the rapist is now enjoying a quiet retirement in Quebec, Canada, with impunity for having raped a boy at St. Mary’s International School.
If that is not enough for us to choke on, we should be worried, very worried, that this school where hundreds of our boys are educated, perpetuates Rape Culture.
I bring this up because the zeitgeist of our youth, social and media culture is undeniably in the throes of defining this term “Rape Culture”—something that us older people have lived through and have taken for granted as something incidental that happens to unlucky individuals. But now, we are slowly starting to understand that when rape and sexual assault have been perpetrated as much as they have (as in all the cases at St. Mary’s, which we’ve lost count of) and not a single perpetrator has met any form of punishment, it must mean that there is a system and culture in place that allow safe and easy passage for rapists, and that enable rape. This is Rape Culture.
The Impunity of Powerful Men
The Class of 2016 who graduated St. Mary’s just a few weeks ago once had the confessed rapist, Brother Lawrence, as their Elementary Principal. So, this is their story as much as it is that of their alumnus who was raped in the 60s, by Lawrence. Thanks to the internet’s long memory, they will know that for years they were exposed to this same rapist. They will know that nothing at all was done to hold this predator accountable for the sexual assault of one (?) of their brothers.
What would turning in Brother Lawrence had done to Saburo Kagei, or Thomas Tremblay, or Michel Jutras? To the normal, moral mind, you’d think it would have just shown these men in charge to actually have moral integrity and honesty. Not to mention, it is a no-brainer to turn in known criminals to the authorities in a lawful society. But what did they choose to do instead? The men in power at St. Mary’s chose to protect the impunity of one of their own, by allowing him to have ZERO consequence, and then they pretended to have done the integral thing. This is the crucial point. There must be a slippery slope that results when these men in power start turning each other in—so they did everything they could in order not to set it in motion. It means that the men in power now, still have something to hide and something to lose. We have lost count of the St. Mary’s sexual assaults reported in newspapers since the story of Brother Lawrence broke. Are some of the assailants still on the payroll? We may never know—we have seen that they form a system that keeps crimes and misdeeds amongst themselves, silent. It’s a Mexican standoff, and our sons are in the middle.
*Long-time skeptics of St. Mary’s “integrity” knew of their lying about having gone to the authorities. There were clues in the careful letter the headmaster wrote in January 2014 to parents:
“After the school administration learned of the situation, we notified the local Japanese authority and the Archdiocese of the Catholic Church in Tokyo. Both agencies are conducting investigations with the schools’ full cooperation. While the investigation is ongoing, Br. Lawrence Lambert is prohibited from having any contact with students, staff or parents at SMIS.”
Notes: What does “notified” mean? Did they whisper it on the wind in the direction of the koban? Why would an Archidiocese be allowed to have any kind of interference or parallel investigation in an official criminal investigation?
Our sons will long be in positions of subordination before they become men in power. From their alma mater, they will have learned that men in power don’t suffer consequences; men in power don’t tell on each other when they abuse the powerless—this is the Top Secret. Our sons will long endure abuse at work, or in relationships thinking this is the norm. When they become men in power, they too will destructively believe the same of themselves. Until someone does tell. This is Rape Culture.
Privilege Over Humanity
In the end, all St. Mary’s actions amounted to was protecting its reputation of being a safe school for kids; it had effectively done NOTHING to hold a rapist on its campus criminally accountable, which was the only right thing to do. This (unearned) reputation is, of course, important to maintain for alumni donations, maintaining current enrolment and future enrolment. For the community of parents and alumni—they/we also become complicit in this cover-up when we are more concerned about upholding an abstract reputation of an abstract institution than demanding accountability when this system reveals itself to be the enablers and protectors of predators. Are we choosing Love, or Fear (really, the only two choices we ever have to make in life)? Do we fear that our sons are not capable of being good, successful people without the backing of the name of a school, on a piece of paper? Do we fear that we are not good people if our sons are not successful? Can we just overlook a couple of rapes of sons that are not technically ours? Such a high price to pay for choosing fear: our humanity. This is Rape Culture.
Other instances of protecting privilege (the school’s reputation and finances) over humanity (doing the right thing):
- Sending the known rapist to an unsuspecting Japanese school community of children, so the headmaster could say “with a clear conscience” that Brother Lawrence was off St. Mary’s campus
- Having no restitution in place for survivors all the while actively inviting them to come forward to tell their stories to some strangers convened on a panel of lawyers. This exploited survivors further under the banner of “doing something”, when it was, really, reputation damage control
- Telling parents during enrolment drives that the brand of the high school matters–helps keep them silent about problems at the school; telling parents that there is an affiliation with ivy league schools, when in fact, there is not (the information below shows an example of an ivy league university replying that it did not have any affiliation with SMIS nor any high school. Students achieve acceptance on their own merit):
- Exploiting the culture of emotional silence of boys / men to protect reputation & rapists
- Exploiting the culture of emotional silence of Japan to protect reputation & rapists
This is Rape Culture.
Survivor, SMIS Alumnus, and Producer Teja Arboleda is documenting this element of St. Mary’s International School’s reality in his documentary on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, Ring Around the Collar. Here’s the trailer: