The Episcopal School of Dallas is liable for $9 million for how it dealt with the sexual abuse of a 16-year-old female student by a 34-year-old male teacher.
The jury found that the school was not liable for failing to prevent the relationship, but was grossly negligent in how it handled the incident when the relationship was discovered.
Claire St. Amant wrote an in depth article for D Magazine of the scandal and how the private Episcopal School handled things.
The article is disturbing not only due to the details of the abuse, but by the school’s apparent self-intrest in their own reputation and comfort.
The overall sense of the article is that the parents were more than willing to work with the school going forward, even though the school erred in the beginning by not telling the parents immediately upon learning the extent of the abuse.
The school then worked with the family until the rumors started flowing around the school and the girl started processing aloud what had happened.
(the article uses the name “Emily” for the former student)
No longer suffering in silence, Emily was disrupting the entire campus. Feeling Emily was a long way from closure, Mayo met with Royall and Swann, and, without input from Emily, her parents, or her therapist, the trio of administrators decided Emily had to go.
In an email that would become central to the civil case against ESD, Mayo wrote to Royall: “I don’t want the girl haunting the halls with her sad story for the rest of the week.”
The administrators then forced the family to withdraw her from the school.
The unwillingness of the school to deal with the messiness of the aftermath from the inappropriate and criminal relationship on the part of one of its faculty is a sad and shocking reality. The desire to withhold or gloss over truth to keep people from “disruption” is counter to the Gospel and the ethics of The Episcopal Church (although clearly the church has chosen a similar route at various times in its history).
The administrators of The Episcopal School of Dallas missed their responsibility to wade into the ugliness of broken trust and emerge with real healing. They could have worked with the victim and her family in facing the challenging issues concerning balancing her privacy and the need for the school community to have some understanding of the truth. By choosing the “easier” path of removing the girl from the school, the administrators failed their charges.
And it will cost them more than just the $9 million…