Tag Archives: Linda Wayne

Rape Culture and St. Mary’s

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Original picture shows Stanford graduate joining her Class of 2016 in calling out the Rape Culture perpetuated by her Alma Mater (Re: Brock Turner case). See these young people’s stunning moral stance here. Do we or our boys have the moral fiber to do the same?

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):

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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):

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  • 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:

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A son to be proud of–take note, parents!

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They hired a messaging plane. “Protect survivors, not rapists”. Moral minds, moral hearts. These graduates used this special day of theirs to shine. Btw, “Persky Must Go” refers to the lame judge who allowed the rapist of a woman behind a dumpster, the lightest of sentences, fearing a longer one may have “severe impact” on the rapist.

 

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St. Mary’s Brothers & Teachers Confess to Rape and Abuse

Update, November 20, 2014: The inimitable Sylvia deconstructs a recent Kagei letter to parents, blow-by-blow, in an awesome exercise of critical thinking.  My favourite is how Kagei declares that the raped alumni are “no longer members of the St. Mary’s community” (??), yet, asks parents at the end of the letter to “pray” for them.  That’s right, parents: abused victims of Catholic institutions are to be thrown out of the community and pitied.  Carry on.  Eueeeech.  Kagei lumped the expelled victims with their abusers, who are somehow also not part of the SMIS community.  No doubt Kagei hoped to divert from the awareness that perhaps there are CURRENT victims at the school, and EXISTING abusers.  Not to mention that Br. Lawrence lives with the Brothers in Quebec, who own the school, which makes this a lie. 

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The best part of Sylvia’s analysis is highlighting that when the St. Mary’s rapist himself writes a letter to say that he did rape a child, Kagei lied to have called it an “allegation” over and over in every letter sent out to parents.  Does the fancy swirly whirl of the Br. Lawrence signature not mean anything to Kagei?

Sylvia points out that SMIS has hired a risk management company as part of an investigative panel for the sexual abuse cases.  WTF indeed.  They’re even named 360, as in degrees?  I guess we gotta prepare to see Kagei do a couple of 180s.  First, from total silence for 8 months to “we care so much” (upon news story exposure).  Next, from “we care so much” to…”damn these pesky alumni trying seek acknowledgement of their childhood rape whilst in the care of our institution, how dare they??”  It’s already precipitating in the letter.

Are the panelists here to make lemonade out of lemons?  It’ll be kinda hard to put a positive spin on child-rape and cover-up.  Who chose this panel?  Who’s paying them?  Who cares?  It’s the the A-team of PR consultants, y’all!  What are they being paid?  If not enough, why would they lend any more than a disinterest glance at any victim, coming forward?  Even Kagei has to speak for them–prob. to save some yen.  Are these rare compassionate human-beings pitching in to help simply out of the goodness of their hearts?  Not likely.  What resources do they have to handle sensitive, deep, troubling and time-consuming cases?  That’s important to know.  For comparison purposes, this is how the investigative team for ASIJ victims (the survivors’ own lawyers: O’Donnell Clark & Crew) championed the issue in a press-release, issued directly by them.  These legal professionals, without the need to make a grand entrance, cared enough about the issue, to say a few words to the beleaguered community, themselves.  However, the school’s set of lawyers, Ropes & Gray, who are doing a parallel investigation, are a totally different story [Update April 18, 2015: not only have the school and Ropes&Gray failed to process a report by their own due date of Fall 2014, they have issued no updates except one that seems to shift blame on the victims for the delay–because the victims demanded too many things like “transparency”.  See what O’Donnell Clark & Crew were able to prove with concrete evidence to Ropes & Gray.]

Without the knowledge of the degreed panel’s level of care, here’s what the Kagei game-plan looks like:

“Children were raped at our school, you ask?  By our teachers?  Why look at these here Harvard degrees from our illustrious panel!” Kagei says as he wand-waves over the parents, who are desperately trying to hold together a decent school year for their kids.  

Kagei, your school makes it hard for parents.  Why do they even have to deal with the spectre of your staff’s criminality?  And foot the bill so you can PR-spin your child-rape cases? USD $25,000+ a year per child in tuition?  It was certainly a great business model, while it lasted.  Will it survive the internet’s long memory?  How about film?  One alumnus who came forward is a documentarian.

Also, just to keep it in perspective folks, here are 15 notable criminals from Harvard University.  16 if you count President Larry Summers, king of conflict of interest, architect of massive deregulation that put many St. Mary’s dads out of investment banking work in the global financial crisis of ’08, and helped wipe out $5 trillion in global savings and pensions.  More than anything here, that man was most responsible for the enrolment drop at St. Mary’s and the consequent lack of international diversity at the school, bar none.  I’d add him to this list (for the global crisis, I mean.  Obviously.):

Amy Bishop (born 1965)
PhD 1993
mass-murderess
John Donald Cody
Harvard Law School 1972
Aka “Bobby Thompson”; Convicted November 14, 2013 of charges in connection with United States Navy Veterans Association
Marc Stuart Dreier
Juris DoctorHarvard Law School 1975
Securities fraud
Gina Grant (born 1976)
Did not matriculate
voluntary manslaughter. Lied on application about killing mother. Early Admission offered, then rescinded.
Christopher Janus (1911–2009)
College 1936
Bank Fraud
Ted Kaczynski(born 1942)
College 1962
Unabomber terrorist/Murderer
Viktor Kozeny (born 1963)
College 1989
Fugitive financier
Chas Lee (born 1971)
College 1993
Embezzler
Suzanne Pomey(born 1980)
College 2002
Embezzler
Joshua Parker {1690-died after 1732}
Class of 1710 {did not graduate}
Forger; brother-in-law of Nicholas Fessenden Class of 1701
Henry Phillips
Class of 1724
Murderer {Duelist}-died in exile in France 1729
William Pickard(born 1945)
Kennedy School of Government1996
LSD manufacturer
[518]
Eugene Plotkin
College 2000
Convicted of insider trading
[519]
Robert Livingston Schuyler {b.1798}
Class of 1817
Embezzler/Bigamist
Louis Agassiz Shaw II {1906–1987}
Class of 1929
Murderer
Jeffrey Skilling(born 1953)
Business 1979
Conspiracy, making false statements, insider trading, and securities fraud during the Enron case
[520]
Sinedu Tadesse(1974–1995)
College 1996 (did not graduate)
Murderer
Chuck Turner (born 1941)
College 1963
Convicted felon and former Boston City Council Member
Dr John White Webster (1793–1850)
College 1811
Murderer
Richard Whitney (financier) (1888–1974)
Embezzler
Stephen H. Kessler(1930s-?)
Medical 1957
“Mad LSD Slayer” of 1967

[Brother Lawrence’s and the Brotherhood’s letters of confession / apology for rape, below]

Pain of Sexual Abuse 1

Leo Burnett Thailand created this powerful ad for Bangkok-based Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights Foundation

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Click to link to story

Well, so much for allegations.

The following are excerpts from the letters of confession, which we just learned that the school actually had in their possession prior to January 31, 2014 when they were still communicating this matter as “an allegation”, to parents:

Letter 1 is from Brother Lawrence to his victim:

“I finally take this opportunity to offer you my sincere apologies for assaulting you in 1965. It should never have happened. At that moment, I chose selfishly my pleasure, putting aside your value as a human being, the values that I wished to live by, the true endeavor of an educator, and the mission of my congregation. I am ashamed of what I did.”

Letter 2 reveals details of the sexual assault:

“The simple truth is that still today I cannot understand the fact I raped you. It was the first time I did that in my life, and I did not do that again. I was on my way to my bedroom upstairs when I saw you and saw nothing wrong with talking with you on the way. But then somehow passion suddenly took over and I did what I should never have done and selfishly and violently hurt your body and hurt your heart for the rest of your life.”

Letter 3 is from the Brothers of Christian Instruction:

“Our Congregation also bears responsibilities concerning the evil that was done to you. A warmer community life, a better awareness of the sexuality of men living in communities, and also a strong willingness to cope frankly with the evil done to you could have helped in preventing such wicked actions, or could have helped you get through that ordeal, but it was not the way the situation was dealt with. I am sorry.”

It is undeniable the full extent of rape that happened at St. Mary’s by a Brother, acknowledged by the perpetrator and the administration.  Why didn’t the school publicize this as such?  Since then, we know Brother Lawrence was sent off campus to a Japanese school in Shizuoka, where apparently the safety of Japanese children don’t matter as much.  Then, he was allowed a quiet exit from the country to retire in Canada.  Is St. Mary’s International School truly being accountable for what went on at their institution?  It is only because the Japan Times, outraged alumni, this blog and others have been persisting that the school has HAD to admit that it knew.  The school admin add that they are only now distressed to learn the extent of things and started reaching out to alumni who’ve been abused.  Of course, they have known all along and were content to sit on it passively for 9 months.

If you are part of the school community and are committed to it–recognize that the “leaders” in place are probably NOT the ones to make real, credible policy about this deeply important matter for the present and future safety and reputation of the students and school.  This is a complex situation, requires a a steady hand to separate the cancer from the vital organs.  Know that it IS possible to support the current students AND hold this administration to account.  YOU and the students are what makes the school great every year–how much greater would the school be with an admin that would act responsibly?  Remember: the perpetrator only retired a year ago.  Current students were among his charge.

And in case you thought it was just the Brothers at St. Mary’s, here’s a second article:

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Click to link to story.

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Japan Times: St. Mary’s International School’s Sexual Abuse Report

[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.]

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Update #2: Sept. 25, 2014. Looks like the survivors of SMIS abuse are serious.

[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.]

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(Click on image to link to story)

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.

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What to Do If Your International School is Run By A**holes

Forgive the title, but is there really any other way to say it?

We went from 11,000 visitors to almost 22,500 since January because of people wanting to know what has become of the allegations in St. Mary’s International School’s sexual abuse scandals.  Counts of assault have been revealed to us like clowns coming out of the VW buggy of your worst nightmare.  And then what should we get?  A Japan Times article about a sex scandal at ASIJ within a week of its revelation!

ASIJ Japan Times Article

[Note to Japan Times: what was wrong with our story (released in January)?  Don’t the emotional lives of little boys matter as much as little girls?  Isn’t St. Mary’s as newsworthy as ASIJ?  If it weren’t for the fact that many families have kids in both schools, we’d feel left out.  We are literally, brothers and sisters.

Note to ASIJ: don’t worry, you’re not alone–we’ve got institutional pedophilia at St. Mary’s International School.]  

Newcomers to this blog have tuned into the Forum page (which is a separate annexed section about a thematically different topic from the rest of the blog), and might understandably be confused.  If you have no idea who we are or what to make of this hodgepodge of themes, we’ve put out some FAQs below.  After reading them, maybe you too can come to the conclusion that all these stories actually belong in the same bag (correct me if I’m wrong):

That the international school community in Tokyo has weak foundations in real governance and leadership–especially at the schools cited in this post.  They are inherited private oligopolies that follow a business formula.  The admin are usually inbred promotions who have never had to answer to transparency or accountability.  They rely on the Japanese norm of silence to deal with problems.  Then, “problem individuals”, after years of anguish, come back for a reckoning:

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Is this what we want?  The bloggers here, given our angle, will attempt to offer suggestions to remedy these problems in the here and now–hopefully helpful, no matter what international school you have deal with.

Our theory about the bad governance and leadership:  the international school community is made up of vulnerable, isolated individuals and families highly dependent on the private services of these educational institutions.  It is a roaring money-making, diploma-churning machine that everyone loves in Good Times:  teachers and admin make tons of money at a lower tax rate than in their home countries; staff have subsidized housing in one of the most expensive cities in the world; alumni can feel proud of their alma maters; parents have somewhere reliable to educate their kids during their stint in Japan; international kids are immersed among a student body just like themselves; new and old admin look like geniuses if they can keep the music going, though they don’t have much to tweak.  As it should be.  But what happens when you add a protest by a teacher during carnival?  Or bullying?  Or now, sexual abuse, into that mix?  And then a noisy victim or three or 32?  The whole bubble is threatened.  Nobody at the helm is individually smart enough or empowered enough to act–no active leadership has been needed in recent memory.  But the worst thing has been that no one has been moral enough to act, which should override everything.  By this, we indict Brother Michel, the head of the corporation of St. Mary’s during this scandal, Mr. Kagei and of course the litany of pedophile admin and teachers who have preyed on the student body.  The ASIJ admin are equally shirkers of doing right–ignoring the girls who came out to tell them of their plight.  But, these admin are not alone.  The Bystander Effect is real.  Everyone knows that criminals and wrong-doers are bad, but whistleblowers are even worse–because they are us…in a role we can’t imagine.  When a victim steps forward, we all take a step back, thinking of the hassle to ourselves.  A largely complacent community, with atrophied civic activist muscles, has no idea how to navigate this without being a serious buzz-kill to the God of Good Times–people would rather not have known.  Who dares provide leadership on something like this?

The knee jerk plan of admin, in absence of a real solution, has always been to ignore or silence any individual who threatens the brand name (and hence, marketability) of the school, as obviously has been done throughout the case documented by this blog at St. Mary’s International School and now, apparently at ASIJ.  St. Mary’s admin have even been known recently to go the extra step of denigrating whistleblowers in secret (Ms. Tran’s resurrected case) or settle quietly with the Archbishop (over Brother Lawrence’s victim).  Loyal teachers, parents and alumni are content to rely on the same problematic admin to…address problems.  In complacency, we are complicit.

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This is called GroupThink, a nasty phenomenon.

First, some FAQs for new readers:

1. Is this blog about St. Mary’s International School?

No, this blog has specifically tracked a case which ran 2008-2010 about a teacher who sued St. Mary’s International School for unfair dismissal.  She felt that it was the signature act of oppression by an administration that was willfully deaf, dumb and blind to transgressions made by its top-ranking admin for the 2 years she worked there.  The school paid a settlement.  The teacher is / was Ms. Tran.

2. Is this case current or past?

This blog started up again in 2012-present when Ms. Tran found out that the Linda Wayne, Curriculum Coordinator at St. Mary’s, was behind an attempt to shut her out of her post-St. Mary’s employment in the field of teaching at Tokyo universities–an unnecessary dick move.  More at: Case Background.

3.  How is this related to the sex-abuse scandal at St. Mary’s?

It isn’t.  Suddenly, during the updates of the resurrection of  Ms. Tran’s case in January 2014, the school admin released a  letter to parents with the shocking news that Brother Lawrence was accused of sexual abuse while working at St. Mary’s.  This blog, being the only free, anonymous way to discuss matters related to the school at the time, offered the Forum, for people to discuss this separate issue.

4. Where can we read more about the updates about the sex-abuse scandal at St. Mary’s?

Commenters at the Forum are becoming more forthright with what they know, so check there.  A miraculous discovery on the Forum has been a blogger from Canada named Sylvia who has dedicated an enormous amount of her time documenting every case of sexual abuse within Canada’s Catholic church.  She gives names, dates, photos and history of those in the clergy.  Sylvia has documented no fewer than four cases that have emerged along with the story of Brother Lawrence:

  • Brother Lawrence / Guy Lambert, sexual abuse allegation from 1963: bit.ly/1deuurH
  • Brother Benoit Lessard (deceased), sexual abuse of students who attended a camp KEEP in late 60s: bit.ly/1nQZKSn
  • Brother John Paradis, sexual abuse of student(s) involving fellatio during tenure 60s, 70s, mid 80s: bit.ly/OL67qC
  • Brother Marcel Villmure, sexual abuse involving molestation and threat-shaming of students with foolscap-sized nude photocopies of themselves if they told bit.ly/1jrfZP

The clearest (and unfortunately most graphic) account of abuse was given here on our own Forum and republished as a post on Sylvia’s site, by an alumnus: bit.ly/1gfyIPu.  Commenters have pointed out the incomprehensible complicity of the school secretary at the time who apologized to the victim once he emerged from the Brother’s office (a sign of her knowing what happens to the children in the office), and of the gym teacher of that era who may have known what was in store for the child as punishment, when he sent him to the Headmaster’s office for a transgression.

Second, some tips for the international school community to flex their activist muscles:

1. Japan is a first world country, so work it.

In a first world country, legitimacy and accountability are much more important to institutions than in developing countries–but one person won’t convince them.  Organizing many people to solve problems democratically is legal and effective.  In particular, parents getting on an email list, and then meeting at a rented hall where everyone pitches in is one way to get people together to discuss what they want.  Ideas:

  • A petition could result: to the media; to the police; to the UN in this case of violation of children’s rights; to the education ministry, which licenses the schools; to the “accreditation” councils which the schools depend on to rubber-stamp their “credentials” in the relatively poorly-enforced world of international teaching standards (like WASC, IB, COIS etc.).
  • Catholic parents could petition the Archdiocese and the Vatican in the St. Mary’s case.
  • A class-action lawsuit, civil damages re: endangering students.
  • A parents’ council / board with actual influence on the school’s policies, hiring decisions, admin appointments could result.  See #2.

2. We can always boil an institution’s inexplicable immoral silence down to: Money.  So hit them where it hurts.

Families that have the flexibility to move elsewhere need to show institutions that their poor governance will cost them–simply by moving to better-run schools.  Research enrolment deadlines.  Are other schools somehow inconvenient?  What is more important: family convenience or a safe, accountable school that doesn’t have a delayed-deploying sexual abuse bomb?  Other international schools trying to sit nice and quietly on the sidelines of this PR nightmare for St. Mary’s and ASIJ can show leadership by stating their thoughts on the matter and assurance of how their schools are run.

Families that are planning to stay for a longer-haul and who are themselves invested in the school community also have power.

Take the example of how large banks deal with developers.   If a developer wants to build an office / retail tower, it needs the financial backing of a huge bank.  Shovels can’t hit the ground, obviously, until this money is released.  Banks only release the money when they are 60%, 70% or 80% sure, depending on the case, that the developer has what it takes to actually run the finished-building properly and pay back that large loan.  Only then, would they start to release the funds, but even then, in stages.  So, to assure the bank, the developer, at the beginning of the project, only equipped with architectural drawings and a sales team, is busy lining up tenants and clients to fill up the imaginary tower.  They must present to the bank expressions of interest, if not sales contracts, from enough tenants or buyers to assure the bank that this will be a viable building that can do its duty of fulfilling its debt.

My point is: parents represent the bank.  Collectively, they hold the money that the school needs to run.  We are talking USD $25-30 million a year.  They absolutely need to be front and centre on the decision-making for every new school year.  Fine, a private company like these schools can have whatever board they want.  And yes, they once represented a oligopoly of schools.  But no longer: with at least a dozen choices in the Tokyo area, and growing.  However, parents new and old, as a block, remain a buyers’ monopoly: a monopsony.  Schools have a hard time attracting and retaining a customer, especially with viscerally disgusting scandals like these.  Parents deserve a checklist of assurances before releasing their cash:

  • Have grievances lodged by parents, students, teachers or alumni been solved adequately?
  • Do returning admin or teachers pose a threat / have serious complaints accrued against them?
  • Have background checks / review systems for new and returning staff been updated?
  • Who is enjoying a life-time tenure, why?
  • Are staff licensed to be working with / teaching children?
  • Is there a system in place for all members of the school community to solve problems without fear?

My experience at St. Mary’s showed no serious or enforceable system of complaint by anyone.  The admin have no accountability to anyone except themselves.  One parent-faculty memo showed only 69% of staff even have teaching certifications etc.  When we started this blog about Ms. Tran back in 2008, citing those things that Ms. Tran and we  encountered may have seemed petty and isolated.  But now look at what they actually represent!  We wish it weren’t true!

As the international school situation is now, the problem is, it is only in theory that the parents have a powerful collective hold of the school’s needed revenue.  In reality, the parents are not organized and are individually contracted with the school to pay their child’s fees.  A parents’ board would solve that: a legal entity that can direct parents, who’ve signed on, when to release money and by how much.  Even if the school outwardly refused to do business with the parent-board, it would have no way of seeking legal redress with all the individual families who participate.

Even the threat of this should be sufficient for ushering in a new era of accountability: meet the community’s demands for answers.  There is no arguing that these terrible sexual abuse scandals are a damning indication of institutional governance rot. There is no defence for it.  At least, we can make it an opportunity for change.  [Since power seems to corrupt, a compromise between the admin and the parents could be setting up a tuition-release fund held in trust / escrow until the parents get their answers].

3. Write to the the Japan Times writer, Jon Mitchell who wrote about the ASIJ case, tell him to include St. Mary’s!

Finally, an update on Ms. Tran’s defamation case against Gregory Strong of Aoyama Gakuin University

In our opinion, this case is a prime example of how someone’s drunkenness on self-perceived power and influence goes on to make them perpetuate a rotten and corrupt system of secrecy:

After the judge ruled the case a go (Ms. Tran as an overseas plaintiff had to pay a deposit to the Japanese court to prove her seriousness), Strong’s side issued arguments.  We’ve roughly translated and summarized Ms. Tran’s response below.  (Next time, in early April, Strong’s side will be able to respond.)

First: Strong’s words about Ms. Tran was in a private email to an individual, was not public and therefore does not constitute defamation.

–> The definition of defamation does not include that false remarks have to be public.  There are precedent cases within the Japanese courts that show that being public does not have to be a factor in determining defamatory remarks.  Furthermore, Strong may have written the email in confidence, but he certainly had no control over how public the email would have become, nor could he enforce its secrecy [i.e. this blog!].  Lastly, in the email that Strong wrote himself, he stated that he would likely be warning others away from hiring Ms. Tran, so his intention of keeping such gossip a secret is not true.  Therefore, the defence’s argument of the remarks being “public” or not doesn’t make sense.

Second: Ms. Tran was not qualified to work at Aoyama.

–> Ms. Tran had not sued over a job at Aoyama, nor listed it as a reason for the lawsuit.  Surely any candidate who feels qualified has the freedom to apply to a publicly posted job without fear?  It is unrelated to why Strong would go ahead and write defamatory, self-admittedly unverified, imagined things about another person that would negatively affect their reputation.

Third: the email was written simply to express why Strong would not be hiring Ms. Tran at Aoyama

–> Such an email should be directed to Ms. Tran, herself, then–not her current employer!  Also, the email does not at all talk about Ms. Tran’s qualifications.  In fact, it only mentions Strong’s ideas about Ms. Tran’s case and settlement with St. Mary’s.  So, this doesn’t give any more excusable an explanation of the email communication, and it contradicts Strong’s argument that Ms. Tran wasn’t qualified.

Lastly: Gregory Strong is not liable for the court costs in the breach-of-settlement case against St. Mary’s

–> Strong’s email specifically states that he had knowledge (whether real or fictitious is another matter) of an otherwise  confidential settlement.  He pins the source as St. Mary’s admin, cites this authority and specifies the confidential nature of the matter.  Next, he acted upon this information in the worst way possible: using it to harm one of the parties–Ms. Tran.  Would Ms. Tran have enforced the settlement with St. Mary’s, if Strong hadn’t specified in his own words how and from whom he got this information?  Of course not. [I wonder if St. Mary’s would also sue Strong for having put them through an expensive lawsuit?]

  •     *     *

There you have it, the foulest smelling week of international schooling in Tokyo.  Thanks to everyone who has been helping to lift the lid off this doozy.  Next: you are powerful, Mr. and Ms. Bystander, Bystander san, and Bystander tachi!  It’s time to do something!

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Moms! You list higher than Power!

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The alumnae of ASIJ proved to be much louder and more media savvy than the alumni of St. Mary’s…just saying.

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Why are any of us still putting up with this bullshit?  Let’s reclaim the schools and be the generation that changed things for the better. For good.

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Update on Defamation Case Against Gregory Strong

[UPDATE added below in red] We were truly surprised by the news about the sexual assault allegations against Brother Lawrence at St. Mary’s, from a letter to parents sent out on January 31.  As we wrote in the last post, the least we could do to help members of the wider school community who may be affected, is to host and facilitate a(n anonymous) discussion, found in the Forum.  We are happy to use this blog’s established existence to do that.  Apparently, many of us are interested:

[UPDATE: Here is the world-wide readership for the past week, for example:Feb 11 Stats

Here is how people came to our blog (for the past 30 days–to include January 31st, the day the letter to parents came out).  Wow–is all we have to say about the power of Facebook–507 referrals, and counting:]

Feb 11 Referrers

*     *     *

As for Ms. Tran’s case, because she submitted the overseas plaintiff deposit on time, the defense (Gregory Strong, Professor of English at Aoyama Gakuin) has had to submit arguments for the February session of the court  i.e. engage in the suit fully. That happened earlier this week.   Ms. Tran’s side will rebut the arguments for the next session, at the beginning of March.

The defense’s arguments are long and repeat much of what was said in the case with St. Mary’s earlier.  Namely, that Gregory Strong had no obligation to hire Ms. Tran at Aoyama.  Again, while this is true, the decision not to hire someone surely shouldn’t be followed by a defamatory rant to the person’s current employer, nor a written threat to stymie the person’s future chances of being hired elsewhere.  How about just not hiring the person, Mr. Strong?

We can only imagine that a small-minded, petty person with an inflated sense of self-importance and influence would bother to do that.

Upon checking out Gregory Strong’s CV, it seems he presents at McGraw-Hill Education Events at JALT, writes about EFL and ESL, and of course, is in charge of hiring for Aoyama Gakuin University’s English Department.  Thus, it is understandable why he wrote this email defaming a teacher in the “strictest confidence”: such a thing is, otherwise, utterly unprofessional to do.  Of course, there was an assumption of an unwritten Code of Silence and the support of a league of behind-the-scenes actors who have no qualms about damaging others.  It’s great that Ms. Tran’s employer at the time refused to participate.

It’ll be interesting to find out how the defense will argue that Mr. Strong felt it necessary to go the extra step of writing about fictitious court orders and settlement results against Ms. Tran in his infamous email.  And if St. Mary’s claims not to have fed Mr. Strong this information officially, then Mr. Strong needs to explain why he cited an authority at St. Mary’s.

*     *     *

We are not big fans of Codes of Silence and non-transparency.  These things may be useful for holding up reputations of institutions or the egos of those who run them, for a while, but ultimately, they create an environment full of unacknowledged cracks.  When the weakest member of a community is being punished for or prevented from speaking out, be it a new teacher, be it an isolated family or student, the community is an unsafe one.  These days we hear a lot about societies fighting to protect women, girls, minorities like the LGBT community, victims of sexual abuse (in India, Sochi, the world wide Catholic community…)–because when the weakest members feel safe and thriving, that’s when we can be assured a community is a solid one.

St. Mary’s International School was not a safe place for Ms. Tran to bring up, what should have been standard complaints: stop whispering in her ear Mr. Assistant Vice-Principal; acknowledge the test results of her students and stop closed-door meetings where a teacher is not allowed any advocate present.  It was surprising, instead the machinery that had been set up and waiting, to squash her speaking up.  In 2008, it was in the wording of the contracts that the school had set up with the teachers’ landlords, and the ambiguous wording of the employment contract itself.  These things could only be challenged in court, which took time and expense.  When the teacher overcame those, in 2010, it was the St. Mary’s admin, Linda Wayne, Curriculum Coordinator, who leveraged a network of friends in positions of power to pass on things that would damage the career of a teacher in a way that would not be visible to the courts.

Why is there machinery to quiet voices?  Why not deal with problems openly and transparently?  Is the brand of the school more important than the well-being of the individuals within it?  We are afraid so.

By the way, we don’t mean to attribute real “power” to people like Gregory Strong and Linda Wayne.  We feel like it is only applicable because in this small, claustrophobic context of international schools in Japan, and particularly at St. Mary’s — these individuals seem big.  Noting the ultimate pettiness of what was done to Ms. Tran, we know that her slanderers would not be considered worthy of their professions in a real context.  If Linda Wayne’s dinner conversation with Gregory Strong meant to excuse why St. Mary’s had to pay a settlement to Ms. Tran:

An Excuse

In our opinion, 25-30-years is much too long a tenure for people like Linda Wayne and Gregory Strong to ever be advocates of progressive education and teaching excellence.  Spotty-bottomed bureaucrats intent on reinforcing the brand of the only institution on their resumes?  That’s more likely.  Some international schools in Europe have a 7-year maximum on how long any teacher or administrator is allowed to stay.  What a great policy.

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Litigating from Overseas

Overseas litigants taking up a case in the Japanese courts is nothing new.   The comfort women from the surrounding Asia-Pacific countries that Imperial Japan had once dominated, perennially sue the government for apologies and restitution.  The parents of murdered British teacher, Lindsay Hawker, somewhat successfully sought justice through criminal court by seeing through a life sentence for the killer.  However, unless the case is heart-stoppingly huge, we’ve often never heard of overseas litigation among regular circles.

In fact, at the first sign of meeting hardship in Japan, it’s not uncommon that unattached “gaijin” start shopping around for a ticket back to their home country to run away jurisdictionally and emotionally.

Japan is often over-sold for its planet-bizarro touristy goodtimes—and its (once) roaring yen.  Litigation here, there or anywhere is usu. considered a major downer.

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Japan = good times only!

In Ms. Tran’s case, who would want to get fired and have to deconstruct the systemic unfairness of it?  Who would want to see the aftermath?  Delve into labor laws, the plight of foreign workers, systemic abuse of power and meet the true stony-face of the Japanese working world and justice system?  If you don’t have a future here, why dig in your heels?

In fact, in Ms. Tran’s first case, the St. Mary’s admin had banked on the tried, tested and true behavioral gaijin flight pattern by:

  • reminding her that unless she took advantage right away of the free shipping back to Canada, organized by the school, of the allowable 1000 lbs of household contents, this very expensive option would be forever lost to her (knowing that they had induced her to ship about the same amount to prepare for a “life in Japan” just 2 years earlier)
  • giving her a goodbye card–colored black for demoralization, while other teachers who were retiring, moving on au naturel etc. had nice washi patterns
  • revealing at the last minute that her apt lease was actually the school’s lease and that she’d be considered a squatter if she stayed a minute longer

If you’re a reader of this blog, you’ll know that Ms. Tran, instead of worrying about the fate of her closetful of fashionable dresses, or about the school’s stationery-as-emotional-weapon, just changed the locks and stayed in the country another 4 years  (continuing for 22 more months in the same apt, until the case resolved), effectively scrambling known patterns.

So, in this case now with the St. Mary’s defense case scapegoat, Gregory Strong, how does it work that Ms. Tran can litigate in Japanese civil court, from overseas?  A quick Google search will show that Tokyo has well-established bilingual legal services (Japanese-English) for foreigners–like, overseas foreigners:

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It probably made a difference that Ms. Tran had connected with her lawyer while still living in Japan (most offices require a face-to-face, paid consultation at the first meeting).  However, the logistics of payment and communication thereafter have been simple and seamless.

Ms. Tran has had to put up 150,000 yen as a deposit required for overseas plaintiffs, in addition to court fees and one-time legal fees, as requested by Gregory Strong’s lawyer, in case Ms. Tran poses some sort of flight risk!

By the way, after 6 years, how much did Ms. Tran eventually have to ship home?  I asked and it was less than half of what she had originally brought.  Apparently, the 2008 economic crash gave her “an epiphany about banks, their promotion of consumer spending to lock people into personal debt to them in order to rely on loans and credit cards, the mechanisms by which their top institutional investors reap ungodly profits, the main source of income inequality.”  Hmm.  500 lbs of clothes is still a lot of clothes!

And, why dig in your heels, Ms. Tran?  

1. Not standing up for yourself is a top 5 death-bed regret.  

2. Kurosawa did warn of brain-rot from simple narratives:

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3. “日本が大好き, OK?”

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Lawsuit Against Gregory Strong, Professor of English at Aoyama Gakuin University

Despite our informal poll earlier showing that people figure BOTH Linda Wayne and Gregory Strong were culpable in defaming Ms. Tran, it’s been confirmed that Ms. Tran will be suing Gregory Strong through the Yokohama District Court–the first court date is in 2 days: January 8, 2014.  The case will be for defamation that originated from a conversation he testified to have had with Linda Wayne, and was reported to Ms. Tran’s employer in an email, in a way that sought to denigrate her professionally.  Following the “logic” of the courts, if St. Mary’s International School and Linda Wayne (and in fact Gregory Strong himself) were eager in defense mode to alleviate the school of any official association with that email, it leaves Gregory Strong himself responsible for what he wrote.

Ms. Tran has learned from St. Mary’s teachers that Linda Wayne will be leaving St. Mary’s at the end of the school year, and probably Japan.  Her fateful conversation with Gregory Strong, speaking on behalf of the school as one of its admin, leading to this defamation suit will be something she has left behind for her friend Gregory Strong.  What a way to cap off a 20+ year friendship in Asia!  Something actually fitting for Linda Wayne and Gregory Strong and their idea of relating to people.  They had wanted to spread the word about Ms. Tran.  Well, they got what they wanted.

What will Ms. Linda Wayne do?  The hope is any profession that has to do with people and social skills will be spared.  A consultant for school accreditation?  Supply teaching?  Will she have new coworkers or new neighbors?  Probably.  I hope they use Google.  Her husband Joe was a nice guy–if he’s well now, maybe he can represent them to new folk.

[Update January 20: it has been suggested that Linda Wayne, who is not at retirement age, is being asked to finish her tenure at the school.  2013 ended two major uses the school corporation had for Wayne:  

1. Undoubtedly, she has had to answer to the litigation against the school sparked by her friend Gregory Strong, who had cited her office at the school as the source of defamatory remarks.  The school’s successful downloading of all the responsibility on Strong himself likely did not mitigate the fact that the poor choice of having communicated sensitive issues to such an indiscreet person put the school at risk and cost them unnecessary legal expenses in three levels of court.

2.  The school, as per usual, also depended on Wayne, as the Curriculum Coordinator, to see through another accreditation process.  

Since the corporation has finished squeezing both responsibilities out of her, it’s curtains, is it?]

The fact that Ms. Tran is pursuing litigation from overseas can cause the other side and the courts to doubt the sincerity and authenticity of the claim–after all, it will cost Gregory Strong lawyer fees to defend himself and an overseas’ plaintiff could drop the case without recourse.  To that end, Japanese courts have a provision that may require Ms. Tran to post a type of deposit to ensure that she is not taking this lightly.  I’m sure Ms. Tran will not hesitate to wire that amount over.  [But FYI, the yen is sure to tank against CAD / USD…]

OK, that’s all we’ve found out for now and we are sure of its accuracy.  Thought I’d share 🙂

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