Category Archives: Blog

Sign the Petition on Change.org Requesting School Officials to Take Responsibility for Abuse of Children at ASIJ

Last week, we posted a petition on Change.org titled “Take Responsibility for the Sexual Abuse of Children at ASIJ.”

In it, we request that the American School in Japan’s Boards of Trustees and Directors demonstrate its commitment to its stated core values in the following ways:

(1) Embrace “honesty,” “integrity,” and “community” by publishing the complete final report of its independent investigation by July 1, 2015;

(2) Exercise “compassion” and “global responsibility” by putting an end to the victim-blaming and excuses, effecting responsible policies to protect students in its care, and offering fair compensation to the victims of Jack Moyer’s abuse; and

(3) Honor the lives of past, present, and future children above that of institutional glory by acknowledging prior failings and making a full public apology for the role the school played in enabling and concealing Jack Moyer’s abuse.

Our petition quickly rose in signatures, first, to 500, then to 1,000 signatures.
Now at over 1,300 signatures, we feel the petition is sending a loud message to ASIJ that the lives of children matter, and covering up decades of sexual abuse is not acceptable by an institution of trust.

We hope you’ll visit the petition page and read the comments at the bottom.  If you decide to sign it or share it with friends, we will greatly appreciate it!

Here are some of the most recent comments on our petition page:

signatures for the ASIJ Sexual Abuse petition

June 2014 Letter from ASIJ Announcing Ropes & Gray Investigation

June 4, 2014

Dear ASIJ Parents, Trustees, Alumni, Faculty and Members of the ASIJ Community,

Since ASIJ publicly acknowledged in March the allegations of abuse on the part of JackMoyer, a teacher and consultant affiliated with the school from 1963-2000, the Board of Directors and the administration have engaged with students, parents, trustees, alumni, and our regulatory authorities as well as affected former students. We appreciate the many expressions of support, as well as constructive input from a number of you in our broader community.

The loss of a child’s innocence in a school setting is inexcusable, and the Board has received these allegations with humility, sympathy and the utmost seriousness. It is in that spirit, and after extensive work on this matter, that we have concluded the need for an independent investigation into the facts of this case. We see this as an essential step toward continuing to minimize or eliminate the risks that something of this nature would ever happen to current or future students. We also hope this will help provide a measure of closure for those who have been directly affected.

We write today to let you know the Board’s Statutory Auditors have engaged the respected law firm of Ropes & Gray to lead the independent investigation. Based in Boston, but with offices in Tokyo, Ropes & Gray has no prior involvement with ASIJ and has extensive experience with similar investigations, involving schools in the U.S. and internationally. Ropes & Gray is tasked with ensuring the investigation is thorough, fair and appropriate with respect to all concerned.

The investigation, which we expect to be completed by sometime this fall, will be completely independent. The school’s Statutory Auditors, Katherine Hall and Fred Morgenstern, identified Ropes & Gray, set the terms of engagement, and will oversee all matters regarding the progress of the investigation. Their oversight will be based on the standards set out under the school’s governance procedures and Japanese law, which requires ASIJ to appoint independent Statutory Auditors to monitor the Board as non-Directors.

The investigation will examine all school records regarding Jack Moyer. It will involve
interviews with former students who elect to come forward, as well as current and former
board members, administrators, faculty, alumni, parents and others who may have relevant information. It will address the allegations against Moyer, and assess how ASJI faculty, staff and administrators responded. It will also examine any other allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior at ASIJ that might surface as part of this investigation. It will cover the period from Moyer’s employment up to and including today.

Anyone wishing to come forward with information that may be pertinent to this independent investigation may do so under full confidentiality at 617-235-4397 in the US, and 03-6259-3566 in Japan.  Those who wish to contact the Firm via email may do so at:
ASIJReportline@ropesgray.com.

Ropes & Gray will present its report and findings to the Board once the review has been
completed.  A summary of the report and its conclusions will be made public thereafter, taking into consideration victim privacy and Japanese privacy laws.

While we wait for the report and its recommendations, we want you to know that we have
already moved forward with a number of initiatives to protect students. Criminal background checks are now mandated for all employees, both new and existing. ASIJ is also studying best practices at other schools and we are working with the organization Keeping Children Safe to devise and introduce new measures that will go even further in addressing the needs of our students.  Further information on these steps will be shared in due course.

We thank you for your continued support, and encourage participation in the Ropes & Gray
investigation if you have information to share.

Sincerely,

The Board of Directors
The American School in Japan

April 2, 2015 Letter from ASIJ Regarding Investigation Status

April 2, 2015

Dear ASIJ Parents, Trustees, Alumni, Faculty and Members of the ASIJ Community,

We write to update you on the status of our investigation into reports of sexual abuse at ASIJ by Jack Moyer, a teacher and consultant affiliated with the school from 1963-2000.

As you are aware, after hearing of the deeply troubling allegations, the current Board of Directors took action last June to retain an independent law firm to conduct a thorough investigation. The investigation, involving extensive interviews in multiple countries, is nearing conclusion.

While we had anticipated concluding the investigation sooner, it is important to note that, shortly after announcing our process, we received a demand letter from a law firm that has been retained in the U.S. by a number of victims. The firm made significant financial and other demands on the school, which we have been working through. In December, we and the law firm hired by the victims mutually agreed to engage a respected mediator with relevant experience to help find a responsible way forward. Those discussions are ongoing.

We recognize that everyone in our community is eager for a resolution to this dark chapter in ASIJ’s history. We want to assure you that we continue to work diligently to get the facts and to do all we can to achieve a fair resolution consistent with our obligations to the victims, for whom we have great sympathy, as well as our school, including current and future students.

We appreciate your continued patience and support.

Sincerely,

The Board of Directors
The American School in Japan

April 2014 Letter from Alumni to ASIJ Calling for Investigation

April 6, 2014

Mr. Ed Ladd, Head of School
Ms. Stephanie Toppino, Board Chair, Board of Directors

The American School in Japan
1-1-1 Nomizu, Chofu-shi,
Tokyo, 182-0031, Japan

Dear Mr. Ladd & Ms. Toppino:

We are writing in response to your communication of March 2014 regarding Jack Moyer. To say that we are broken-hearted at this terrible news is a monumental understatement. It is almost impossible for us to believe. Many of us spent our entire formative years at ASIJ. The school, the relationships we forged there, and the memories we made are as beloved to us as our own families. It is shocking and heartbreaking to us that such evil could have befallen any of our classmates and friends. That the evil acts were not only known to the administration of the school but appear to have been sanctioned by it (through continuing to associate with the perpetrator for years after the knowledge of his deeds was brought to the attention of the school) is entirely beyond our comprehension. It is, in a word, outrageous.

As a result, respectfully, as a class, we are not satisfied with your letter. As alumni of the school, many of us have made significant financial contributions to ASIJ over the 27 years since our graduation, and in some cases have sent our own children to become students at the school. We respectfully, but firmly, ask for answers to the following questions:

1. What actions have been and will be taken to protect future students from befalling a similar fate?
2. What specific actions have been taken to understand how this could have happened under the watch of prior administrations, and why nothing was done when the allegations were initially brought forth?
3. Are there any current administration/board members who were present during the years Jack Moyer was associated with the school during and after employment? If so, are they being asked for a full accounting of what might have been known?
4. What plans does ASIJ have to support Jack Moyer’s victims, a number that may well exceed several dozen?

As we know you are aware, one of the overriding purposes of any institution that is entrusted, as ASIJ was and continues to be, with the welfare of children, is to protect those within its care. The unfortunate impression we are left with after reading your letter is that ASIJ cares more about ‘circling the wagons’ than fulfilling the trust bestowed upon it by parents. We are certain that this is not your intent.

A full airing of the past, including who knew what and when they knew it, is the only way forward. If ASIJ chooses to be proactive in allowing 3sunshine2 to prevail, our community will have a far better chance of healing, as Penn State recently learned (and the parallels with Penn State here are deeply troubling, both in terms of the likely number of victims and the culpability of former administrators who looked the other way).

We send this letter in the spirit of caring deeply for ASIJ, and look forward to your response.

Signed: Members of the Class of 1987

March 2014 Letter from ASIJ Admitting Jack Moyer’s Abuse of ASIJ Students

March 17, 2014

Dear ASIJ Alumni and ASIJ Community,

This past November, we received a letter from a former ASIJ
student detailing sexual abuse by a former ASIJ teacher, Jack
Moyer. Moyer was employed as a middle school teacher from
1963 – 84. Based on other information we have been able to
gather, as well as an acknowledgement made by Moyer to
another affected student prior to his death in 2004, we believe
he engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with students
during his teaching tenure at ASIJ. Following his retirement
from teaching at ASIJ in 1984, Moyer continued as a
consultant for ASLFs off-campus marine science programs
until 2000.

The current Board of Directors and leadership team take these
circumstances very seriously and recognize the disturbing
implication for our students and families, past and present. By
openly acknowledging this sad part of our history and by
offering our sincere sympathy to those who were impacted by
these events, we hope to assist in the healing process. We
encourage anyone who desires to share his or her experience
with us to reach out. Please contact Board Chair, Mrs.
Stephanie Howe Toppino by either calling the school directly
(0422-34-5300 ext 201) or via email at stoppino@asij.ac.jp.

We also take this opportunity to assure our community that
ASIJ is a school committed to sustaining an environment that
does not permit or condone any form of sexual abuse, sexual
harassment, or any abuse of children by adults. To this end,
we will continue to review policies and practices as they
relate to the protection of students. Currently our counseling
programs at each division address with our students about
their responsibility to treat others with respect, their parallel
right to be treated with respect and be safe in their person and
how to report inappropriate behavior. Counselors at each
division will continue to reinforce these messages.

We would like to also announce an ASIJ donation to TELL
Counseling. TELL offers counseling services throughout
Japan as well as a Lifeline School Awareness Program and
the Child Protection Awareness Program. All of these worthy
programs address the needs and rights of children in Japan.
We encourage those in the community who would like to join
us in our pledge to do so by contacting TELL directly at
http://www.tellip.com/index.php7/how to donate/

One of our core stated values at ASIJ is to provide for the
social, physical, and emotional well being of our students. We
believe that a culture of trust and respect is the very
foundation on which all of our educational efforts as a
community are based. As we look forward, the school will
work to continually ensure that this foundation remains
strong.

A recent visitor to ASIJ remarked that our students look out
for one another and are gentle in their interactions with each
other. We are proud of this observation and will continue to
ensure that this culture endures and is the standard by which
we judge our success.

In this day when social media is so prevalent and concerns
with cyber-bullying so paramount, we ask you to be
especially sensitive to the impact your words and posts (and
those of your children) can have on our community.

To ensure that any communications are both accurate and
respect the privacy of our community, we ask that you refer
any inquiries you may receive directly to either of us, rather
than responding yourself.

ASIJ, its leadership team, and its Board of Directors, thank
you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

Sincerely,
Stephanie H. Toppino
Chair, Board of Directors
Edwin V. Ladd
Head of School

A Response to the ASIJ Board’s April 2, 2015 Community Update

April 8, 2015

Dear ASIJ Community:

We are thirteen ASIJ alumni, just like you. We are thirteen women who are your friends, family members, former classmates, acquaintances, colleagues, sisters, wives, and daughters. We write to you today because we are also thirteen victims of Jack Moyer’s abuse – and ASIJ’s complicity in that abuse – who are deeply hurt and saddened by ASIJ’s April 2, 2015 “update” to the alumni community.

Last June, in response to the outrage which swept through the ASIJ community following ASIJ’s “recent” realization of Moyer’s decades-long history of abuse, ASIJ was shamed into announcing an independent, “thorough, fair and appropriate” investigation into this dark chapter of the school’s history. This investigation was to have been released in the fall of 2014. Now, community uproar has again pressured ASIJ to provide an explanation as to why, a year later, no report has surfaced.

According to ASIJ’s most recent “update,” the reason for this delay is, apparently, the victims’ fault – our fault – because we retained counsel to ensure we had a voice in this process after being ignored for decades. This deeply hurts and offends us.

In June of 2014, our lawyers wrote a demand letter to ASIJ in which they conveyed our requests for transparency, a full and complete investigation, changes in policy, fair compensation for what we suffered, and an apology for the role the school played in our abuse. These requests – that the school take steps to honor its purported commitment to community, integrity, honesty, and accountability – are ostensibly what the Board’s recent “update” refers to as “significant financial and other demands on the school.”

Every step of the way, we and our lawyers have fully cooperated with Ropes & Gray (the law firm ASIJ hired to conduct an independent investigation into Moyer’s abuse). Many former ASIJ faculty, staff and alumni have reached out to our lawyers and provided them with information, which – with consent from the individual – our lawyers have dutifully provided to both ASIJ and to Ropes & Gray to aid in their investigation. We participated in the Ropes & Gray interviews, revealed and relived our abuse before complete strangers, and shared our personal and painful stories. We did this because we, too, want the report to be as thorough and complete as possible. ASIJ’s implication that we or our lawyers somehow caused the delay in completion of the report is simply not true.

Over the past year, we and our advocates – the law firm of O’Donnell Clark & Crew, in Portland, Oregon – have been conducting our own investigation into this dark chapter of the school’s history. During the course of our investigation, we have uncovered concrete evidence (and provided this evidence to ASIJ and Ropes & Gray) of the following:

  • ASIJ learned of Moyer’s inappropriate behavior with young female students by at least 1968 and yet denied any knowledge of such for decades, extending as recently as its March 17, 2014 community announcement.
  • In the years that followed, ASIJ leaders – including but not limited to former Headmasters William Ricketson, Ray Downs, Peter Cooper, and Tim Carr, as well as former Principals Jack Collins, James Juergensen, and Robert Winer – received more than four dozen reports of Moyer’s ongoing sexual misconduct and abuse of ASIJ students.
  • Moyer confessed in writing to sexually abusing ASIJ students and specifically identified seven of us by name among the ranks of his victims.
  • ASIJ leaders concealed Moyer’s sexual abuse for more than forty years, and even after repeated warnings, did not take steps to remove Moyer or safeguard ASIJ students.

Please understand that this is not an exhaustive list. Leaders at the school had knowledge of Jack Moyer’s sexual abuse of ASIJ students for decades. We know this because many of us (and our parents, friends and family members) summoned up the courage to go tell ASIJ administrators and faculty about Jack Moyer’s sexual abuse during the time he was abusing us, in the 1970s and 1980s. We believed the school when they told us they would do something, and that it would never happen again. Each of us believed we were the only one, for we thought that had our beloved school known – and certainly, once it knew – of Moyer’s sexual abuse of ASIJ students, it would have taken steps to ensure there would be no others. We shared our pain and humiliation because we wanted to protect then-current and future students from suffering as we suffered.

Imagine how we felt when, in March of 2014, the school announced that it only “recently” learned of Moyer’s decades-long abuse. Imagine how we felt when we learned that our school knew of Jack Moyer’s misconduct as early as 1968 – long before any of us were ever abused – and that many more children were made to suffer needlessly, all because the school failed to live up to its promises and did not do anything to protect future victims – including many of us.

The abuse Jack Moyer committed against us included forcible rape, sodomy, and extensive, repeated sexual abuse. In some cases, the abuse began when we were 11- and 12-year old children; in others, it spanned across years of our lives. Decades later, we still feel that pain. But Jack Moyer was not the only one who hurt us and betrayed our trust – ASIJ did, too. High level ASIJ personnel have even admitted to the role they played in failing to stop the abuse.

For example, in an April 4, 2014 email exchange between former ASIJ High School Principal Dr. James Juergensen and one victim’s family member, Dr. J spoke of the actions he took in the late 1970s after receiving detailed, formal reports of Jack Moyer’s abuse of two of us in 1977 and again in 1979. In that April 2014 email, Dr. J stated:

“[I] went to Bill Ricketson [Headmaster, 1970 – 1977] and then Ray Downs [Headmaster, 1977 – 1991], who told me they were going to investigate further, and take action. … I thought those two Head guys would follow up, I was too naïve. They must have thought that ASIJ’s reputation was a higher calling somehow. Boy did that backfire on all of us!!!”

When we, the victims, reached out to ASIJ one year ago, we made our goals very clear: truth about the past, justice for the victims, and changes to ensure the safety of all current and future students. ASIJ says it has “great sympathy” for us. But actions speak louder than words. For the last year, ASIJ has not focused on what happened to us, nor worked with us to develop a process to encourage a fair and reasonable resolution to this terrible chapter of our collective history.

Despite all of this, however, we remain hopeful that ASIJ will rise to meet our demands. But, to achieve that, ASIJ needs to show us, not just tell us, that it will honor its core values: community, honesty, integrity, respect and accountability. ASIJ needs to take responsibility, release the full and complete Ropes & Gray report, and put an end to the victim blaming. Put simply, ASIJ needs to do the right thing. The truth must come out, for only then can we – the entire ASIJ community – begin to heal.

We are thirteen of the untold number of survivors of Jack Moyer’s sexual abuse, and of ASIJ’s role in that abuse. We are thirteen alumni who are deeply and endlessly grateful for the ASIJ Community’s continued support, and who hope that our school will live up to the honorable goals it promised to embody. Together, we are ASIJ.

With Hope,

Thirteen ASIJ Sisters