asij survivors handsWe are very excited to announce that, over this past week, thirteen special clients traveled Japan to take a significant step forward on their path toward healing from childhood sexual abuse and institutional betrayal.

Last year, we helped these thirteen women seek justice for the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of their teacher, marine biologist and serial pedophile Jack Moyer.  Moyer sexually abused these thirteen women in the 1970s and 1980s, when they were just children attending the American School in Japan (“ASIJ”), an elite private international school located near Tokyo, Japan.

Many of these survivors suffered in shame and silence for decades. However, a number of these women (and their friends and family members) made reports of Moyer’s sexual abuse to the school in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Each time, the school assured them that something would be done to protect future students. Each woman thought that she was the only one who Jack Moyer abused. Unbeknownst to these women at the time, they were not alone.

In fact, the school received notice of Moyer’s inappropriate conduct toward and sexual abuse of female students beginning as early as 1967 – several years before any of our clients were ever sexually assaulted by Moyer. Despite this, the school nonetheless allowed Moyer to continue to teach, have access to, and abuse children up through 2000.

On March 17, 2014, ASIJ released a letter which incorrectly stated that the school had only “recently” learned of Moyer’s decades-long sexual abuse of students. Following release of this letter, outraged parents, current and former faculty members, past and present students and other members of the ASIJ community wrote to the then-Board of Directors, demanding that the school accept responsibility for its role in enabling Jack Moyer’s sexual abuse. In June of 2014, the ASIJ Board of Directors announced that it would be retaining the Boston law firm of Ropes and Gray (“R&G”) to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations of abuse by Moyer.

These thirteen women engaged Crew Janci LLP to ensure that their voices were heard in this process, and to demand that ASIJ release the full and complete R&G report, issue a public apology to the victims, enact new policies and procedures to better protect students in the school’s care, and compensate the victims for their pain and suffering.

Over the next year, the survivors and their supporters wrote hundreds of letters to the Board, started petitions that garnered over 1500+ signatures, spread awareness on social media, and simply refused to let the school sweep Jack Moyer’s abuse under the rug yet again.

In May of 2015, a new Board of Directors was sworn in, and immediately agreed to meet with the victims here in Portland, Oregon from May 31 to June 4, 2015. On June 5, 2015, mere days after the New Board was sworn in and the mediation completed, ASIJ – by and through its new board – publicly declared that it was going to “do the right thing” by the victims and accept full responsibility for the school’s failure to protect children in its care.

Among other things, the newly elected Board of Directors agreed to compensate the survivors for what happened to them; released the R&G report to the public; established a task force on child sexual abuse prevention, of which one of the thirteen survivors is to be an integral member; created a scholarship in the survivors’ honor; and – perhaps most personally significant to many of the thirteen women – invited all thirteen survivors to return to Japan to revisit and re-engage the school they once loved, and form a bond with their alma mater that had been broken over the previous decades.

This, then, is what our thirteen clients are doing in Japan: continuing to work to heal some of the wounds inflicted by years of institutional denial and betrayal, forming new relationships, and reclaiming an experience once unjustly denied to them. As reported by the Japan Times:

The American School in Japan on Monday presented a student with a scholarship created as part of the Tokyo school’s efforts to honor survivors of former teacher Jack Moyer’s sex abuse and “promote healing and reconciliation” in its community.

The inaugural award — ¥1 million toward the future higher education of the recipient — is “a tribute” to the survivors of Moyer’s abuse and “recognizes their exceptional strength and courage” in bringing the truth to light and fighting for justice, said Brian Johnson, chairman of the ASIJ board of directors and trustees.

During a ceremony at the ASIJ campus in Chofu, western Tokyo, the award was presented by 10 survivors making their first visit to the school since the scandal came to light in early 2014. It was given to a current ASIJ student in recognition of her own courage and strength.

“I think what the award is doing is that the American School in Japan is displaying their desire to be open and honest about what happened in the past, move forward and make the school a safer place for children,” Janet Simmons, a former ASIJ student who was abused by Moyer in the early 1970s, said, calling the scholarship initiative a landmark development.

We are so proud of our clients for their strength and courage, and we are also proud of ASIJ and its commitment to do the right thing by survivors. We hope that more institutions follow the new Board’s righteous and heartwarming example, and help victims on their long journey of survival and healing.

 

If you or someone you care about was sexually abused by Jack Moyer at the American School in Japan, and you would like advice from an attorney about the rights and options for victims of child sexual abuse, please contact Crew Janci LLP today for a free, confidential consultation at 1-888-407-0224 or by using our private online form.  We will treat you with discretion and respect.

You are not alone.  We are here to help.

Jacqueline Swanson

About Jacqueline Swanson

Advocate, Counselor, and Attorney at Law – these words both denote a lawyer’s relationship with a ...