Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Eyewitness to Sexual Abuse

The most disturbing story of the day is Sam Stanton's story at the Sacramento Bee of the school receptionist who testified that she witnessed sexual abuse by a local principal, that she reported what she saw and that the shool authorities took no action.  If this story surprises you, you have not been paying attention to the news reports about the Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse scandals or sex scandals in the schools around the country over the last decade.  What's unusual in Stanton's SacBee account is the eyewitness testimony.  Here's an excerpt:

A worker at Creative Frontiers School claimed today she was aware of at least two instances of possible abuse in the last year at the private Citrus Heights school, including one that she says she witnessed herself involving Principal Robert B. Adams.

Irma Mertens, a 62-year-old receptionist at the school until she quit in May, said in an interview with The Bee at her home that she surprised Adams when she walked into the school's administrative office last summer and found him tending to a 7- or 8-year-old girl in a swim suit.

Mertens claims Adams did not hear her enter the office and that she saw the principal rubbing the girl and touching her in a physically and sexually inappropriate manner.  Mertens said she reported the incident the next day to school administrator Cynthia Higgins but that Higgins never passed the report on to state officials or police.

Mertens' allegations first surfaced Monday in the state Department of Social Services' formal accusation against Adams.   Mertens' allegations come one day after the state and Citrus Heights police shut the school down and announced they were investigating "multiple allegations of child molestation."

Police said Adams is "the focus of the investigation," but no charges have been filed. Adams did not respond to calls Monday or today, but his attorney has called the allegations "absolutely untrue."

Higgins refused to comment when visited at her Citrus Heights home this afternoon. "I do not want to talk about anything involving her at all," Higgins said.

Mertens, who is named as a witness in a complaint against the school by the state Department of Social Services, said she did not confront Adams at the time but told Higgins because, as administrator, it was her job to immediately report the incident.  The state's license revocation complaint against the school indicates that Higgins did not report the allegation, and Mertens said Higgins brushed the incident aside.

Mertens said she continued to work at the facility until May, when she heard of another instance involving Adams. This time, she said in a nearly hour-long interview, she heard from a teacher that a 3-year-old student had been pulled from the school by parents after the child claimed "Mr. Bob touched my pee-pee."

"Mr. Bob" is the nickname students and parents gave Adams, who has been described by some parents as enormously popular at the school.
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Are we getting beyond denial, yet?

1 comment:

  1. My child was a student at the school for 4 years. Mr.Bob was always kind, patient, and understanding with the kids. My son was acting out when our family was going through a crisis and both Bob and Cindy were understanding and helpful. My son summed it up when he said, "Mr. Bob is a wonderful man." This was said through tears when he stumbled across the news story on TV.
    Irma, however, was always rude to kids and me. She did not care for the kids. Many times I heard her snap at kids. Why have we not questioned her interactions with the children?
    Most importantly, I want people to know that my son received the best education there. I am a public school teacher, so I can honestly say that the children got a great education. My son reads above grade level and has a great love of learning. I believe Creative Frontiers was a major reason for this.

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