[The following is a text version of the original letter. Click here to link to pdf file]
St. Mary’s International School
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Dear Members of the SMIS Community,
As promised, I am writing to provide an update on steps we are taking in response to allegations of sexual misconduct at St. Mary’s International School that recently came to light. The accusations have also been the subject of recent media reports. All of the allegations of abuse that we are aware of – including several we received in response to my letter of September 11, 2014 – date back several decades and involve individuals who are no longer members of the St. Mary’s community.
In response to the allegations, our first step is to appoint a panel of experts to conduct an inquiry into the reported incidents. I am pleased to inform you that the panel is now in place and has already begun work. Its members are:
- Ms. Keiko Ohara, a Japanese attorney, a graduate of Harvard Law School who is licensed in New
York and has more than 25 years of experience in cross-border and international matters.
- Mr. Jack Byrd, an investigator with more than 20 years’ experience in a broad range of complex cross-border crimes including allegations of sexual misconduct.
- Dr. Harold J. Bursztajn, a graduate of Harvard Medical School and Princeton University and a forensic psychiatrist with a long-standing special interest in the prevention of sexual harassment and abuse in educational institutions. Dr. Bursztajn consults regularly with health and law professionals regarding victim witness interview methods and analyses.
- Mr. Angus B. Llewellyn, an investigator and a 25-year veteran of the FBI who has led 60+ compliance reviews in response to sexual abuse allegations involving children.
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. In the spirit of transparency, we will share that report with our community while continuing to do our best to satisfy the requests of those who desire privacy in the understandably painful process of coming forward. However, it’s important for everyone to understand that this will take time and the cooperation of our community. We, therefore, ask for your patience and cooperation to allow this work to be completed in a methodical and meaningful manner.
This panel and inquiry are separate and independent from SMIS. Therefore, if you have information to share with the panel, I encourage you to contact them directly. Those who report will be given an opportunity to indicate what degree of confidentiality they wish maintained during the inquiry. The panel has set up the following channels for reporting:
360 Risk Management Group
Toranomon 40MT Bldg. 7th Floor
5-13-1 Toranomon Minato-ku
Tokyo, Japan 105-0001
Meanwhile, our utmost priority at the school continues to be the safety of our students. We are taking every step to ensure that we provide all students enrolled at SMIS with a safe and sound environment conducive to academic achievement and personal growth.
Soon, we will be sending information to our faculty, staff and parents about training sessions to be conducted by David Wolowitz, an attorney with the McLane Law Firm in the United States. Mr.
Wolowitz has extensive experience advising independent schools and regularly trains school administrators, faculty and staff on safe practices to protect students in their care, how to operate safely, how to recognize and address signs of inappropriate behavior and how to respond to allegations of misconduct. We look forward to his visit, when he will hold training sessions for our faculty and staff, as well as parents.
Once again, I want to thank all of you for your patience during this difficult time. We are especially grateful to those who have expressed your support and ask that you continue to pray for those who have reported abuse. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this matter.
I will comment shortly. Meanwhile I ask that those who have infotmation on these “experts” regarding past dealings with and/or comments regarding sex abuse of children (teenagers of all ages included) – and in particular their dealings with male victims of sex abuse. I believe it would also be of merit to know what experience each has had dealing with sexual abuse of young boys by priests, religious or other prominent Catholics in a Roman Catholic facility such as a school.
A reminder here that all sex abuse at SMIS was perpetrated by adult male Catholics on young boys who were students at the school.
I ask you all to do a little digging to help us all understand where this inquiry might be might be going.