An SMIS bombshell…
The “independent” inquiry into the sex abuse scandal at St. Mary’s International School in Tokyo truly is a ruse…
Listen to this…
The lead on the panel heading up the inquiry is a lawyer, Keiko Ohara.
Yes, we knew that. In fact, we knew from SMIS headmaster Mr. Kagei’s first letter regarding the inquiry that he was then in the process of picking a panel, and later learned that Ms. Ohara was one of the hand-picked members.
And, yes, we knew from Mr. Kagei’s third letter that not only is Ms. Ohara a panel member, she is in fact heading the panel. And we knew that not only is Ms. Ohara heading the panel, she is also, according to the SMIS Headmaster, the one who selected the other members of the panel.
What we did not at the time is this…
Ms. Ohara was – and perhaps still is? – a lawyer for the school.
Really! I am serious.
The news comes from none other than Conrad Lord , a Montreal-based French-Canadian lawyer who has been representing some, if not all, of the Brothers of Christian Instruction currently involved in the SMIS scandal. Here it is. In response to an email query asking specifically who represents the school, lawyer Conrad Lord replied (14 February 2014) as follows:
—– Original Message —–
From: Me Conrad Lord avocat
Sent: 02/14/14 05:07 AM
Subject: Re: lawyer
Mrs Ohara represents the school.
Envoyé de mon iPhone
Me Conrad Lord
Mrs. Ohara is, yes, indeed, is, Ms. Keiko Ohara, the Tokyo-based lawyer who, as we know, is heading the panel and inquiry.
To that end, note that in February 2014 Lord identified Ohara as the lawyer who “represents the school,” and note that a matter of months later, Mr. Kagie- and whomever of the brothers at SMIS assisted him? – hand-picked Ohara for their panel, and, as we now know, the head their “inquiry.”
Think about it. Just think about that for a moment.
How often, for example, has Ms. Ohara used here legal skills to protect the assets and/0r defend the reputation and ‘best interests’ of SMIS? I have no idea. I do however know that the very fact that she has been identified as a lawyer who “represents the school” puts an end to the myth that this inquiry is in any way shape or form “independent.”
This is troubling beyond belief. Such a terrible betrayal and rev-victimization of victims. It’s bad enough that this whole inquiry has been shrouded in secrecy from the get go, and that panel member Jack Byrd has stated that clients call his firm once a crisis hits “to make the problem go away.” Now this.
Can you believe it? An SMIS lawyer is heading up the “inquiry”! In other words, a lawyer previously paid by the school to minimize or negate allegations of sex abuse and/or cover-up is now being paid to expose the same?
And Mr. Kagei repeatedly assures one and all that this inquiry is independent?!
Perhaps time to refresh our memories a little. . The following are quotes from the three Kagei letters addressing the panel and inquiry, the first dated 04 October 2014, the second dated 18 November 2014, and the third and more recent 18 March 2015 Please read, bearing in mind that Mr. Ohara the news:
(1) “ I am in the process of identifying a panel to conduct an inquiry into reported incidents”
That sounds like Mr. Kagei is making all the decisions, no?
(1) “…our first step is to appoint a panel of experts to conduct an inquiry into the reported incidents.”
As I have said elsewhere before, the operative word here is “our.” The letter is on SMIS letterhead.
(2) “I am pleased to inform you that the panel is now in place and has already begun work.”
About six weeks after he mentioned that he was in the process of “identifying” the panel has been appointed and begun its work.
Ms. Ohara is not identified as head of the panel.
(3) “We are very grateful that these distinguished experts have agreed to conduct an independent inquiry and are confident that, given their outstanding credentials, we will receive an unbiased report.”
Can you believe it? How pray tell can Ms. Ohara conduct an independent inquiry and produce an unbiased report?
(4) “In the spirit of transparency…“
What transparency? Why, for example, not a boo regarding Ms. Ohara’s ties to SMIS?
(5) “This panel and inquiry are separate and independent from SMIS.”
That’s a lark. Is Mr. Kagei trying to pull our collective legs?
(6) “The panel has set up the following channels for reporting:
I mentioned in another blog that kamlaw.com is the url for Ohara’s lawfirm Kamiyacho International Law Office. At that time when one clicked on firstname.lastname@example.org the email directs to email@example.com, Ms. Ohara’s email. (plus, hover the mouse over firstname.lastname@example.org and up comes “mail to: email@example.com)
In other words, anyone contacting the panel via email is contacting Ms. Ohara, The only other mode of contact provided is via snail mail, The snail mail address is that of the company of Mr Jack ”make the problem go away” Byrd.
This means that naïve. trusting and unwitting victims and/or those with sensitive and potentially damning information regarding the goings on at the school, are to contact either (a) a lawyer who only months ago was representing the school, or (b) a panel member retained/appointed mid SMIS crisis to, without doubt as he has said regarding other clients, “make the problem go away.”
(1) “The panel, selected and led by Ms. Keiko Ohara...”
This is the first time Mr. Kagei let it be known – at least publicly – that Ms. Ohara is not only a member of the panel, but is in fact heading the panel.
Why so long? Why a secret until now?
It is also the first time he advised that it was Ms Ohara who selected the panel members. Until now the impression was conveyed that it was Kagei alone, or Mr. Kagei with others from SMIS. Now we learn that, according Mr. Kahgei, it wasn’t he, and it wasn’t any of the Brothers, it was Ms. Ohara who hand-picked the panel!
The logical extension of that news is of course that it was Ms. Ohara who retained/appointed Mr. Jack ”make the problem go away” Byrd?
In light of the bombshell news, there’s small comfort in that,.
Anyway, as it stands now, and if we are to believe all that we are told, we are looking at a scenario where the SMIS Headmaster and/or the Brothers hand-picked the school’s lawyer to select and head the panel and inquiry
(2) “The mission of the panel is to conduct a thorough and independent inquiry into what happened...”
How pray tell can this panel ever conduct an “independent” inquiry?
It’s impossible. Impossible.
The is whole thing is rife with secrecy and conflict of interest.
And, yes, when I first became aware this matter I did attempt to clarify the matter with Ms. Ohara. No response.
Enough for now,
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston is heading an inquiry to examine cover ups within the Church. Let us hope he closely examines the role of the cover ups with SMIS …. the Panel … the Headmaster of course a major cover up player …. His Grace the Archbishop of Tokyo (like the Church in Japan is struggling, this Bishop is still struggling to make Cardinal).