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Head of elite California school steps down as school is hit with ANOTHER sexual assault scandal

The head of an elite California boarding school grappling with a decades-long legacy of sexual misconduct has briefly stepped down after it was alleged that the school coated up one more sexual assault. 

The new allegation includes a male junior on the Thacher School who is a direct relative of founder Sherman Day Thacher. He allegedly choked a feminine pupil with out her consent throughout an on-campus sexual encounter in May 2021, a number of sources informed Law & Crime final month.

The nameless sources claimed the coed was compelled out of the $68,000-a-year school in the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, with school officers saying that if he did not go away, the matter could be included in a public misconduct report and disclosed in his faculty suggestions. 

The incident was not included in an eventual 91-page report compiled by a third-party regulation agency and launched final June – although school officers had been reportedly in search of to maintain the allegations from being revealed in a yet-to-be launched supplemental report.

The unique doc – which was commissioned as half of an try and grapple with the school’s legacy of misconduct – particulars the repeated rape of a 16-year-old pupil by an English instructor within the Nineteen Eighties, alongside with greater than a dozen different situations of ‘boundary crossing’ on the establishment. 

Days after Law & Crime revealed the brand new claims, head of school Blossom Pidduck had already left the campus, the New York Post experiences. Pidduck, 47, was herself a pupil at Thacher from 1989 to 1992 and has two twin ladies with Brian Pidduck, who teaches environmental science on the school.

In a letter revealed on March 17, she got here out as a survivor of sexual assault and mentioned she is taking a go away of absence ‘for my very own therapeutic,’ with many locally elevating questions on her potential involvement within the alleged choking cover-up.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, in the meantime, says that the incident wasn’t reported to them till December 2021 – and disputed that the incident in question was sexual in nature. 

Sgt. Ryan Clark informed Law & Crime that the sufferer ‘didn’t have intercourse with the male juvenile and was not engaged within the sexual exercise alluded to on this report when the assault occurred.’ 

Head of Thacher School Blossom Pidduck, 47, has announced a leave of absence after an article revealed new sexual assault allegations at the embattled boarding school

Head of Thacher School Blossom Pidduck, 47, has introduced a go away of absence after an article revealed new sexual assault allegations on the embattled boarding school

Pidduck, a former Thacher student, says the last year-and-a-half of internal investigations and scandals at the school have left her reckoning with her own history of sexual assault

Pidduck, a former Thacher pupil, says the final year-and-a-half of inside investigations and scandals on the school have left her reckoning with her personal historical past of sexual assault

Sources told Law & Crime that a direct descendant of Thacher founder Sherman Day Thacher was forced out of the $68,000-a-year school after he allegedly choked a girl during an on-campus sexual encounter

Sources informed Law & Crime {that a} direct descendant of Thacher founder Sherman Day Thacher was compelled out of the $68,000-a-year school after he allegedly choked a woman throughout an on-campus sexual encounter

The exclusive boarding school was at the center of sexual harassment report released last June that alleges nearly 40 years of sexual misconduct by teachers and staff, including the rape of a 16-year-old student

The unique boarding school was on the middle of sexual harassment report launched final June that alleges practically 40 years of sexual misconduct by academics and workers, together with the rape of a 16-year-old pupil 

 In the letter asserting her go away this month, Pidduck wrote: ‘These have been difficult realities to confront. The findings of the MTO report have been notably troublesome for me to face as Thacher’s head of school as they’ve introduced with them very personal realizations. 

‘Over the previous year and a half, I’ve sought to guide the group by means of this painful course of whereas guarding the laborious fact of my very own expertise of hurt.’

She added: ‘Taking a go away of absence is not a straightforward factor to do; like so many of us, I really feel nice stress to show that I can deal with all of it with out lacking a beat. 

‘But in my years as head, I’ve sought by means of my actions to convey fact to my perception that management attracts its power not from perfection, however from authenticity and compassion, not from figuring out all of the solutions, however from listening and studying, from asking for and accepting assist.’ 

It stays unclear if Pidduck was concerned within the ousting of the coed on the middle of the brand new allegations. 

Ventura County deputies and prosecutors, in the meantime, have informed the school and its regulation agency to chorus from releasing any new sexual misconduct experiences till they’re carried out investigating new experiences.

‘Successful prison investigations oftentimes depend on confidentiality and the component of shock,’ they wrote in a letter dated December 14. ‘Investigative methods generally employed in sexual assault circumstances require an ignorance on the half of the alleged perpetrator to regulation enforcement’s involvement.’  

The pupil concerned within the choking incident was allegedly informed he could not proceed his research on the school earlier than police had even been contacted.

He now attends a school within the mid-Atlantic, sources informed Law & Crime.    

Pidduck has two twin girls with Brian Pidduck, who teaches environmental science at Thacher

Pidduck has two twin ladies with Brian Pidduck, who teaches environmental science at Thacher

The elite California school gifts horses to it's students during freshman year

The elite California school presents horses to it is college students throughout freshman year

The school dining halls feature views of the California mountain scape

The school eating halls characteristic views of the California mountain scape

Pidduck was herself a pupil at Thacher from 1989 to 1992, in keeping with her LinkedIn.

She describes her most memorable Thacher tenting journey in her bio on the school’s web site.

‘My junior year at Thacher, day 4 of fall tenting journeys within the center of the Hetch-Hetchy wilderness when Mr. Bird pulled out of his big backpack a head of Romaine lettuce and the substances for do-it-yourself Caesar salad dressing. Perfection,’ she recalled.

Pidduck graduated from Amherst College in Massachusetts in 1996 with a level in English. 

She obtained a grasp’s diploma in training at Harvard in 1997 and took a educating job on the Calabasas prep school Viewpoint in 1999 earlier than becoming a member of Thacher as the chair of the English division in 2004. She has remained on the school ever since.

She is married with two twin daughters. 

In a letter to Thacher’s board in December, former trustee and mum or dad Bill Oberndorf accused school officers of partaking in a cover-up.

‘If the MTO investigation [were] really neutral, however didn’t embrace these latest, extremely disturbing allegations, it is laborious to think about any clarification apart from that the Board and the current Administration deliberately coated up these incidents of sexual misconduct,’ Oberndorf wrote. 

Pidduck was herself a student at Thacher from 1989 to 1992. She graduated from Amherst College in 1996 with a degree in English and got her master's degree at Harvard before joining Thacher in 2004

Pidduck was herself a pupil at Thacher from 1989 to 1992. She graduated from Amherst College in 1996 with a level in English and obtained her grasp’s diploma at Harvard earlier than becoming a member of Thacher

Billionaire William Oberndorf and his wife Susan have donated more than $2 million to the Thacher School over the last decade. He accused school officials of engaging in a cover-up by not including the choking incident in the June sexual misconduct report

Billionaire William Oberndorf and his spouse Susan have donated greater than $2 million to the Thacher School over the past decade. He accused school officers of partaking in a cover-up by not together with the choking incident within the June sexual misconduct report

The sprawling 150-acre campus is located just minutes from Santa Barbara

The sprawling 150-acre campus is positioned simply minutes from Santa Barbara

The school also features a private pool and diving board for students' recreation

The school additionally encompasses a non-public pool and diving board for college kids’ recreation

‘If the Board and Administration did certainly cover these allegations from MTO, that may make a mockery of the declare of an unbiased and neutral investigation.’

Oberndorf, a billionaire investor and philanthropist, pulled his funding from the school final year after officers stripped the title of former headmaster Michael Mulligan from the school’s buildings.

‘While the Oberndorf Foundation opposes sexual abuse and harassment of any type, we additionally, as a matter of social justice, consider in due course of,’ his basis mentioned in an announcement.

In one other newly revealed incident, former Thacher audit committee chair Philip Pillsbury mentioned a pupil was dismissed after he was overheard utilizing a four-letter phrase to explain his curiosity in having intercourse with a woman who had rebuffed him. 

The school board allegedly held a particular session after the dad and mom threatened to sue them for overreacting, in keeping with an open letter revealed by Pillsbury in January.

The new allegations come after a months-long investigation concluded in a 91-page report detailing a decades-long historical past of sexual misconduct on the school.

The Thacher School is an unique $68,000-a-year boarding school, sprawled on 427 acres in Ojai, California, positioned some 80 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Some notable alumni embrace aviator and filmmaker Howard Hughes and writer Thornton Wilder, who wrote the celebrated play Our Town.

Arguably essentially the most damning part of the report issues the conduct of a preferred English instructor and boys’ lacrosse and baseball coach, who got here to show at Thacher in 1985.

Pictured, the exterior of one of the campus dining hall areas

Pictured, the outside of one of the campus eating corridor areas

The campus sprawls 427 acres in Ojai, about 8- miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles

The campus sprawls 427 acres in Ojai, about 8- miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles

The Thacher School, in Ojai, California, had released an explosive report detailing 40 years of allegations of sexual misconduct and rape by staff against students

The Thacher School, in Ojai, California, had launched an explosive report detailing 40 years of allegations of sexual misconduct and rape by workers in opposition to college students

A Thacher alumna, recognized within the doc solely as ‘Student A,’ who attended the elite school within the Nineteen Eighties, mentioned that she first befriended the instructor throughout her freshman year, when she felt homesick and ‘lost.

Their relationship took a sexual flip when the instructor allegedly kissed and touched the teenage lady with out her consent after she returned from strolling his canine. 

Then one evening throughout her sophomore year, the lady, then 16, claimed that the English instructor raped her for the primary time.

‘Student A informed us that afterwards she was traumatized and bleeding,’ the report states.

In an unsent letter addressed to the then-current Head of School Michael Mulligan, the alumna described the aftermath of that first rape, which occurred on the eve of the autumn tenting journey, writing: ‘I bled for a whole week after the primary time I used to be raped. I used to be alone within the woods with my classmates with no consolation or assist.’

According to the accuser, the instructor proceeded to sexually abuse and rape her a number of occasions per week all through the remaining of the sophomore year and into her junior year.

‘When I attempted to get away from him or confirmed any curiosity in a boy my age he would both inform me horrible lies concerning the particular person or he would attempt to publicly humiliate me in entrance of different college students to remind me who was in cost,’ she wrote in her unsent letter.

According to the previous pupil, throughout her junior year, the instructor grew violent, as soon as throwing her throughout the room with such power that she lost consciousness, and in addition launched her and different college students to medication ‘as a method of having management over us…’

She continued: ‘it was a horrible, scary, hopeless time.’

The lady in the end confided in her mom concerning the alleged rapes, and the lady reached out to the school, setting in movement a collection of interviews with directors and officers.

The alumna recounted how throughout one interview, a dean questioned her concerning the instructor’s actions and requested if she ‘loved’ particular intercourse acts.

The regulation agency’s report said that the dean denied asking the coed if she loved the intercourse.

Former Head of School Willard Wyman, who resigned in 1992 and died in 2014, had faced accusations of inappropriate touching and making improper comments

Former Head of School Willard Wyman, who resigned in 1992 and died in 2014, had confronted accusations of inappropriate touching and making improper feedback 

In the wake of the scandal, the English instructor resigned within the late Nineteen Eighties. The attorneys who carried out the unbiased probe said that they’ve discovered no proof that anybody on the school ever reported the instructor’s conduct to the police.

An exterior psychologist who spoke to the coed after the instructor’s resignation reported potential baby abuse to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, which in the end dropped the case, stating that the ‘complainant refuses to take part.’

The psychologist who endorsed the lady later wrote to the then-Head of School Willard Wyman that he and school workers had satisfied the lady’s mom that it could be in her daughter’s ‘finest curiosity to not press fees, as it could additional isolate her from her friends.

The mom informed the authors of the brand new report that Wyman pressured her to not pursue a prison case in opposition to the instructor and conditioned her daughter’s return to Thacher on an settlement to not file a lawsuit ‘or make a fuss,’ in keeping with the doc.

The former pupil mentioned she was blamed for the favored instructor’s departure, and was retaliated in opposition to by his colleagues and her friends, who believed that the connection was consensual.

The school’s faculty letter of suggestion for the coed included a point out of her ‘unlucky involvement with a college member,’ however praised her for exhibiting ‘resilience’ and ‘sense of duty.’

Wyman, who headed the school from 1975 to 1992, was additionally accused of inappropriate conduct involving offensive feedback and touching towards feminine college students and workers. 

According to the report, the pinnacle of school allegedly requested to college students to put on ‘horny’ garments to a cocktail party at his home and positioned a hand on a teen’s bottom. 

Wyman resigned in 1992, and died in 2014. 

 

 

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