ASIJ admits honored teacher sexually abused students

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Some alumni say cover-up of molestation reports spanned decades

The Japan Times

Mar 20, 2014

by Jon Mitchell

The American School in Japan, one of Tokyo’s most prestigious international schools, has revealed that teacher Jack Moyer, a renowned marine biologist, sexually abused students while employed by the institution between 1963 and 2000.

School executives made the admission to alumni in an email sent out Monday. However, numerous former staff and students allege that ASIJ administrators had been aware of the molestations for decades — and failed to act on victims’ complaints.

Moyer committed suicide in Tokyo in 2004.

The email sent to alumni by Stephanie H. Toppino, chairwoman of ASIJ’s board of directors, and Head of School Edwin V. Ladd stated: “This past November, we received a letter from a former ASIJ student detailing sexual abuse by a former ASIJ teacher, Jack Moyer. Based on other information we have been able to gather, as well as an acknowledgement made by Moyer to another affected student prior to his death in 2004, we believe he engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with students during his teaching tenure at ASIJ.”

It was not immediately clear why the school delayed contacting alumni for four months after receiving the letter in November.

Furthermore, a number of former staff and students reacted angrily to the email’s implication that the school had only recently discovered Moyer’s abuse.

Janet Simmons, who says she was abused by Moyer after enrolling in ASIJ as an 11-year-old in 1970, told The Japan Times that she had first made school officials aware of the alleged crimes in 1990.

“Much to my disappointment, they did not contact me nor did they cease to elevate his stature in the community. Had they (acted), many girls may not have suffered from his abuse,” she said.

Simmons says she repeated her allegations to ASIJ officials in 2000, but the school still did nothing to notify parents or children. In 2009, she detailed the circumstances of her abuse in a blog titled “Thank You For Holding My Hand.”

Another former ASIJ student, speaking to The Japan Times on condition of anonymity, said she witnessed Moyer receiving oral sex from a female student in 1979. She said she reported what she had seen to the school principal and school counselor, but she believes they took no subsequent action.

According to the former student, who said she has been in contact with many fellow alumni, Moyer molested at least 32 young girls during his employment at ASIJ.

Additionally, former student Tim Shorrock said he witnessed Moyer touching two 13-year-old females inappropriately during a school trip to Chiba Prefecture in 1964. He recalled “thinking something is very wrong here. He’s a grown up, and they’re my age. Why is he doing this?”

Like Simmons, Shorrock believes ASIJ officials were aware of Moyer’s abuse for many years.

“They knew about it and never lifted a finger. There is no doubt in my mind there was a cover-up, and that’s something the school still needs to answer for,” he said.

A longtime ASIJ teacher and former colleague of Moyer who asked that his name not be published due to continuing connections with the school told The Japan Times: “This is a blight that has been hidden. It is a horrendous cover-up that all the administrators of the ’60s,’70s and ’80s knew about.”

Approached for comment on allegations that school officials had been aware of Moyer’s crimes for many years, board Chairwoman Toppino told The Japan Times, “ASIJ has communicated all that it will say publicly on this matter in the letter sent to our community this past Monday.”

In an apparent move to discourage alumni from speaking to the media, the officials’ initial email had requested that alumni with information contact the school directly “(t)o ensure that any communications are both accurate and respect the privacy of our community.”

Founded in 1902, ASIJ bills itself as “Tokyo’s Leading International School,” with campuses in Roppongi and Chofu. According to its website, it currently has 1,500 students ranging from nursery age to grade 12 from 40 nationalities. Its alumni include U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Sony President and CEO Kazuo Hirai and pop star Hikaru Utada.

Moyer worked as a middle school teacher at ASIJ from 1963 to 1984 and a consultant to the school’s marine science programs until 2000. He was a well-known expert in marine biology, particularly in the waters surrounding Miyake Island, a volcanic islet 180 km southwest of Tokyo on which he owned a house.

Moyer led ASIJ students on weeklong study trips to the island. During these trips, it is alleged, he abused a number of female students.

Commentators on an open Facebook community group for 1970s ASIJ alumni this week portrayed Moyer as a sexual predator who chose his targets carefully.

He appears to have focused on young American girls — vulnerable due to being so far from their home country — and groomed them with compliments and gifts.

According to Simmons, “Jack was also a very skilled manipulator. He was very delusional. He didn’t believe he was doing anything wrong.”

Moyer apparently fooled many people. In 1996, he was awarded a prize from the Asahi Shimbun for his marine conservation efforts and work with children. While in 2000, Victor Entertainment released a CD of the biologist — calling himself “Papa Jack Moyer” — singing jazz covers. It was titled “Chikyuu no Kodomotachi E,” (“To The Children of the Earth”).

That same year, Moyer was forced to evacuate to the mainland following a volcanic eruption on Miyake.

Four years later, he committed suicide at the age of 74. According to his obituary in the Mainichi Shimbun, his body was discovered lying on his futon next to two bottles of beer and a large number of unidentified pills.

In its email on Monday, ASIJ officials sought to reassure alumni of the safety of children currently at the school.

“We also take this opportunity to assure our community that ASIJ is a school committed to sustaining an environment that does not permit or condone any form of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or any abuse of children by adults,” it read.

It also told alumni that it will “continue to review policies and practices as they relate to the protection of students.”

Such reassurances appear to have split alumni.

Former student Shorrock said they ring hollow.

“ASIJ needs to go far beyond this statement and hire investigators to determine how Moyer’s crimes were covered up and who is responsible. Until this, it is only an exercise in PR,” he told The Japan Times.

On the other hand, Simmons believes ASIJ has adopted sufficient policies to prevent such a problem from recurring.

She also expressed hope that, by speaking out, her testimony will benefit the ASIJ community.

“Sharing my story has helped others recognize questionable relationships. I think the more we talk about it — and share how manipulative these perpetrators are — then hopefully we can all see how to help prevent this from happening to other children,” she said.

12 Responses to ASIJ admits honored teacher sexually abused students

  1. Sylvia says:

    Fascinating. As the St. Mary’s International School in Tokyo scandal quietly simmers, along comes this bombshell. The prestigious American School in Japan sent out an email to alumni Monday past. Bad news. Jack Moyer, a teacher at the school for nearly 50 years (1963-2000), had, the authors believe, “engaged in inappropriate contact with students during his teaching tenure at ASIJ.”

    Then more bad news. According to various reports, officials at the school had been informed of Moyer’s perverted activities and, that’s right, did nothing.

    Moyer, as you will read in the article, committed suicide in 2004.

    What is it about child sex abuse that has presumably rational adults lying and covering-up at every turn?

    Anyway, just to let you know what has been going on in the prestigious schools of Tokyo, Japan for the past few decades: while certain Christian Brothers of Instruction were molesting boys at St. Mary’s, Moyer was molesting girls at ASIJ.

  2. there is no honesty at SMIS says:

    No doubt that over this period there would have been Canadian girls among his victims.

    I wonder if did Moyer commit suicide in Tokyo in 2004? Maybe it was a case of a victim taking the law into her own hands? After what is coming out of the International Schools in Japan, it could be grounds for the Police to open up Moyer’s death? AND open an inquiry into the sex allegations at SMIS which the St Mary’s Labor blog contributors advise never happened.

    I wonder if the Japan Times and their Jon Mitchell will write about SMIS too?

  3. there is no honesty at SMIS says:

    A former student at the famous or now infamous american School in Tokyo has suggested that the “ASIJ needs to go far beyond this statement and hire investigators to determine how Moyer’s crimes were covered up and who is responsible. Until this, it is only an exercise in PR”.

    SMIS needs to do something similar. To date we have had just one statement to parents, and silence. There has been plenty of comment on the St Mary’s Labor Dispute site that this statement from Kagei-san the Principal is not the truth either, there appears to be no police involvement as he stated there was. And Brother Lawrence has gone away as if he has a cold.

    Perhaps there should be a joint inquiry into SMIS and ASIJ? Both schools should be most eager to fund this type of inquiry so as to get back to education and enabling rebuilding. As the Emperor of Japan said to his people at the surrender broadcast of 1945, words to the effect ‘suffer the insufferable, bear the unbearable, but we will survive’. The schools will survive but need to bear pain if they are to survive.

    The SMIS Alumni pages are also quite silent as if it will go away and not fester and erupt as it will. Any attempts to post to the Alumni sites are blocked, and postings which do get in are moderated OUT. When the scandal erupted in late January Brother Michel partied in Singapore with Alumni, and while both he and Kagei-san partied in Boston with Alumni there. The photos of these booze ups are amazingly missing now from the Facebook pages, but no comment as to what happened or why.

    People who cover up and enable pedophilia to flourish are invariably pedophiles themselves. Look at what is happening to Bishops and senior clergy world over, they are being discovered and outed. As Sylvia has alerted us on Monday Cardinal Pell of Australia is being called before a Commission into Sexual Abuse to answer questions about his pivotal role in cover ups of known pedophile priests. And in the USA on Monsignor was jailed and is on appeals bail after being convicted of endangerment of children for failing to remove a priest.

    With people at this level being involved how long will it be before one courageous government somewhere declares the Catholic Church and some other Churches criminal organisations? Pope Francis has just spoken out against the Mafia, but what about looking at home first before casting stones?

  4. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    T.I.N.H. – I agree with you completely! My anger (and likely yours as well) stems from the heartbreak we feel when we see the church that we grew up in , were entrenched in, carries on with it’s head buried in the sand and treats it’s children like chattels solely for the purpose of their sick deviant sexual desires.
    You make an interesting comment about “governments considering the church as a criminal organization”. Well, Ireland has come the closest to this, having expelled the Vatican ambassador from the country. It causes me to wonder how bad it must be in this former catholic stronghold.
    Having said the above, I believe the only pressure to be brought against the Vatican that will change the likes of this successfully will be financial pressure. The Vatican obviously thinks very little of our civil court system, having elevated themselves far above us mere mortals.
    Dry up the money, and watch things happen! Mike.

  5. JG says:

    Quote from above, which explains where the clerics and “clique” are going with this:

    “ASIJ has communicated all that it will say publicly on this matter in the letter sent to our community this past Monday.”

    No need to expect that the “model” response witnessed everywhere else in the world has not been activated in Japan and it has nothing to do with morality, confessions or doing God’s work. They have simply referred the “matter” to their legal adviser and will be washing their hands with the money of the faithful.
    The “Golden Gates” of the Courts are in their sites.
    Are we impressed yet??

    My thoughts and Prayers for the victims.
    jg

  6. JG says:

    OOps!
    Possible spelling correction, but in the context of this Japanese chapter, with multiple schools, both could be accurate: …”Courts are in their sites.” or “Courts are in their sights.”…
    Time will tell.
    jg

  7. lcmudhpe says:

    There is at least one other male teacher at ASIJ who engaged in sexual relations with his female students. He taught history and previously taught at the American School down in Fukuoka as well.

    If looking for how & why administrators and directors might be inspired to cover up any signs of a scandal, keep in mind that Chairperson’s like Stephanie Toppino are often parents of students about to apply to college – and therefore, they have a strong self-interest not to draw negative attention to the high school of their ‘precious unmolested children’. In fact, that is exactly why the letter was purposely delayed until now — by this time, most seniors have figured out which college they will or won’t be heading to. Had they released this in November, it would have been in the middle of ‘Early Decision’ for most kids.

    In an online post, five years ago, we learn of how the former ASIJ Headmaster Timothy Carr had one of his sons (and two other students) caught dealing marijuana to other students? Were they punished? Nope. Instead, they identified the student whom they sold the pot to — and those students were expelled(!) Carr’s son was allowed to graduate while the following year, Carr instituted a “zero tolerance rule” at ASIJ:

    Posted in 2009: “…A few years ago, the eldest son of the American School in Japan (ASIJ) headmaster, Tim Carr, was arrested with two other ASIJ classmates for possession and sale of marijuana. However, luckily for Benjamin, his classmates had parents who were wealthy connected and able to afford the very best in legal counsel. In return for turning in their “customers”, the charges against the boys were dropped and even allowed to return to ASIJ. La de da. Only after his son has safely gone on to college does Tim Carr announce a strict “zero tolerance” policy for all students at ASIJ. Wonderful lesson in real life hypocrisy for all those at ASIJ. Welcome to the real world, kiddies! Bravo. Rules are for proles.”

    Currently, both last year and this year, students at ASIJ who are caught with using, selling or in possession of marijuana are quietly expelled from the school. ASIJ makes certain NOT to notify Japanese law enforcement nor the other schools that these expelled students eventually end up at. “Protect ASIJ at all costs! Death to traitors!!”

  8. Robert McKinney says:

    Has anyone seen the confessional that Jack Moyer wrote in 2003, the year before he committed suicide, actually listing the names of many of his sexual molestation victims and the sex acts that occurred during each incident?! It’s on the internet, linked to the blog “thank you for holding my hand”. Why did Ray Downs, Peter Cooper, and Timonthy Carr, and other ASIJ staff cover-up this pedophile scandal for four long decades? Did Moyer actually socialize on occasion with the parents of the girls he molested? Talk about an unrepentant sinner and a criminal deviant. What hubris. Moyer was personally acquainted with the imperial family in Japan, both WWII era Hirohito and Japan’s current emperor, Akihito. Did this fact intimidate anyone who thought about investigating Moyer’s crimes? How very cowardly of Downs, Cooper, and Carr. These “guardians” of the students enrolled at ASIJ all proved useless when it came to protecting the student body. If these staff members knew but did nothing, wouldn’t this make them complicit in Moyer’s crimes? Ironic too that when Carr’s son was involved in selling marijuana on the ASIJ campus, the headmaster took action to stop such drug abuse. But from 1962 until Moyer “retired” in 2000, no one in authority raised the alarm or tried to firmly confront the pervert. So very strange.
    My wife and I joined Moyer’s summer weekend trip to Miyake island (dolphin watching) with other ASIJ families in 1993. We also took part in a three day trip to Mie prefecture and Ise Shrine in 1994 that Moyer was in charge of. On the trip to Mie, Moyer brought his then sixteen-year-old Filipino wife. He was about fifty-four years old at the time. Apparently, he began “romancing” her when she was twelve or thirteen! Moyer must have been amazed that he got away with “murder” for so many years. How many Japanese children Moyer molested during his half century long residency in Japan is anyone’s guess? Japan really is a culture where everyone would prefer to “speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil”, like the three monkeys at Nikko Shrine. Apparently the administration at ASIJ took this
    cultural tradition to heart. It’s strongly suspected that Moyer raped some of his victims and yet many of his former students still praise him for his ‘talent’ in the classroom. Very odd this. If Moyer had indeed murdered one of his victims, perhaps to ‘silence’ her, no one would be offering him any compliments for his teaching skills or knowledge of marine biology! His victims have suffered far too long and should not be hearing anymore about their deviant assailant’s pedogogical expertise. We should only be concerned with his pedophilic crimes.

  9. Robert McKinney says:

    Has anyone seen the confessional that Jack Moyer wrote in 2003, the year before he committed suicide, actually listing the names of many of his sexual molestation victims and the sex acts that occurred during each incident?! It’s on the internet, linked to the blog “thank you for holding my hand”. Why did Ray Downs, Peter Cooper, and Timonthy Carr, and other ASIJ staff cover-up this pedophile scandal for four long decades? Did Moyer actually socialize on occasion with the parents of the girls he molested? Talk about an unrepentant sinner and a criminal deviant. What hubris. Moyer was personally acquainted with the imperial family in Japan, both WWII era Hirohito and Japan’s current emperor, Akihito. Did this fact intimidate anyone who thought about investigating Moyer’s crimes? How very cowardly of Downs, Cooper, and Carr. These “guardians” of the students enrolled at ASIJ all proved useless when it came to protecting the student body. If these staff members knew but did nothing, wouldn’t this make them complicit in Moyer’s crimes? Ironic too that when Carr’s son was involved in selling marijuana on the ASIJ campus, the headmaster took action to stop such drug abuse. But from 1962 until Moyer “retired” in 2000, no one in authority raised the alarm or tried to firmly confront the pervert. So very strange.
    My wife and I joined Moyer’s summer weekend trip to Miyake island (dolphin watching) with other ASIJ families in 1993. We also took part in a three day trip to Mie prefecture and Ise Shrine in 1994 that Moyer was in charge of. On the trip to Mie, Moyer brought his then sixteen-year-old Filipino wife. He was about fifty-four years old at the time. Apparently, he began “romancing” her when she was twelve or thirteen! Moyer must have been amazed that he got away with “murder” for so many years. How many Japanese children Moyer molested during his half century long residency in Japan is anyone’s guess? Japan really is a culture where everyone would prefer to “speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil”, like the three monkeys at Nikko Shrine. Apparently the administration at ASIJ took this
    cultural tradition to heart. It’s strongly suspected that Moyer raped some of his victims and yet many of his former students still praise him for his ‘talent’ in the classroom. Very odd this. If Moyer had indeed murdered one of his victims, perhaps to ‘silence’ her, no one would be offering him any compliments for his teaching skills or knowledge of marine biology! His victims have suffered far too long and should not be hearing anymore about their deviant assailant’s pedogogical expertise. We should only be concerned with his pedophilic crimes.

  10. Robert McKinney says:

    The first lines of Jack Moyer’s confession:
    Hi, Michele. I will do my best to answer your questions, plus a couple that Janet asked
    me in another mail and requested that I answer to you.
    I will definitely do my best. Obviously, this is deeply on my mind, and I will be thinking
    a lot about it while I am in the Philippines. It is possible that I really have forgotten an
    incident, but I don’t think so. I will add anything that I remember after I get back from the
    Philippines. True, I did not list everybody in my first responses to you and Janet. I was
    still at the self-defense, panic stage. I was not yet willing to accept my guilt…which I had
    managed to put into the back of my mind and hope it would just go away. Much has
    happened within me in the last three weeks, and I am ready to face it, as I did with my
    wife two days ago.
    1. My first encounter was with XXX in the late 60’s., It was in the summer between her
    junior and senior year in high school, and it was before I was given my Miyake house.
    We had another house in Tsubota, where 8 high school seniors (recent juniors) (4 boys
    and 4 girls) acted as teaching assistants to the local English teachers at the three middle
    schools and one high school on Miyake. I don’t remember how it started. The first
    affectionate encounter I remember was when she gave me a massage one evening during
    the program. I was attracted to her, and I felt a real affection for her. She came back later
    in the summer, and it was then, that we had our first sex. We went for a walk to the rocky
    shore below Tsubota and she masturbated me. I don’t remember for sure, but I think I
    kissed her breasts. I did many times later, because our relationship became deep during
    her senior year. There was no sexual intercourse but once we put ketchup on each others
    private parts and licked it off. Much of our relationship was in several visits to the hotel
    Okura, and lasted about 2 hours. We planned to get married. My former wife had left me
    and I decided to file for a divorce. She came back, and XXX and I announced to her our
    decision to get married. XXX went off to college, promising to come back, but, of course,
    her interests and perspective changed in college and she never came back…but she sent
    both of her kids to the ASIJ Miyake Program, obviously not expecting me to harm them.
    She was 17 when the relationship started, and 18 or possibly 19 when it ended.
    2. I do not remember her name. I have tried hard. She came to Miyake for a visit with her
    friends (two of whom he named – can’t remember her name but could remember her
    friends name?) I slept next to her, and I kissed her several times on the lips before we
    went to sleep on two of the three nights they were there. It was the year that I was given
    my Miyake house. It was during the rainy season, so it must have been just after school
    got out. She was a 7th grader, so she was probably 12.
    3. XXX I had become attracted to her when she was in 7th grade. My first abuse of XXX
    was at Miyake during the summer of her 7th grade year. I used to rub and kiss her legs
    and feet…I slept at the foot of her futon. Once I looked at, but did not touch, her breast. I
    was too selfish and stupid at the time to know it, but I really, really upset her and hurt her.
    15
    She

  11. anne harris says:

    This heinous pedophile Moyer creep makes Jimmy Saville and Jerry Sandusky look like choir boys. Those that knew he was guilty are equally as guilty! SHAME!
    WE WANT JUSTICE!

  12. ASIJ and SMIS says:

    The more I read the greater the similarities between SMIS and SMIS

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