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An exclusive California private school has been plagued by decades of sex abuse involving both students and teachers, according to a new bombshell report.
The $65,000-a-year Thacher School in Ojai, one of the most elite schools in the Golden State, acknowledged repeated instances of “boundary crossing,” including a 16-year-old girl repeatedly raped by a teacher in the 1980s — only to later be asked by an assistant headmaster if she enjoyed it, the report said.
“During junior year he also became much more violent often hitting me, often throwing me across a room so hard that I ended up on the other side of the bed unconscious,” the student told the authors of the report.
“It was a horrible, scary, hopeless time,” she said. “I destroyed my dorm room on multiple occasions but never had even the slightest reprimand… For me, there was no escape.”
The independent report by the Los Angeles law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson, was commissioned by the school after allegations surfaced last year.
The firm interviewed more than 120 former students, parents and current or past faculty members and staffers at the school.
The alleged accusers, many of whom were dismissed or left the academy, have not been charged but authorities are reviewing the claims, the Los Angeles Times said.
“We are going to look into them on a case-by-case basis,” Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Hector Macias told the newspaper.
“We are going to continue to work with the school and their law office in order to vet some of this out and see if the victims are willing to cooperate,” Macias said.
The report is replete with disturbing claims of inappropriate behavior.
Another former teacher, who coached boys’ and girls’ soccer at the school, who created an exclusive clique of students with a secret “initiation ritual” that included asking girls “embarrassing personal questions about their bodies.”
One student said the coach “gave her backrubs, touched her and — on at least one occasion — lay on the floor with her and kissed her bare arms.”
“I remember him sitting down next to me,” another student said. “I remember him sliding behind me with his hands on my shoulders.”
“I remember him saying looks like you need a backrub. I remember him sliding his hands down my sides and his fingers reaching just around the front,” she said.
In another disturbing account, a former Thacher headmaster allegedly asked two female students to waitress a dinner party at his home and instructed them to wear “slinky” and “sexy” clothes, the report said.
It said the headmaster “‘deliberately’ dropped his napkin at a formal dinner, then asked a female student to pick it up and ‘put it on my lap,’” the report said.
Meanwhile, students were discouraged from disclosing the claims and were told the sordid details would have to be reported to police, according to the report.
In addition, the report said students feared they would be the ones getting in trouble.
The report recommends improved boundary guidelines, mandatory reporting training, and additional education on boundaries for students, parents and staffers.
Several of the measures have already been implemented.
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