Debi Ray-Rivers Statement
Saltus teacher sexually assaulted pupils’
A former Saltus primary school teacher sexually assaulted pupils using a mix of favouritism and fear to prey on his victims, an investigation has found.
But the school has decided not to name the teacher involved or to release the full report in order to “protect the identities of the victims”.
The head of an island child protection charity said last night that the teacher was still alive but not living in Bermuda.
Deryn Lavell, Saltus head, said that the school was “saddened and appalled by what happened to our students — young innocent children victimised by a trusted adult”.
Ms Lavell added: “While it occurred long ago, the impact of this kind of behaviour reverberates for many, well into adulthood.
“We hope that their courage to come forward now, and the subsequent investigation, brings some comfort and closure.”
The report concluded that the male teacher engaged in “sexually inappropriate touching of students, and what we now understand as grooming behaviour” in the 1970s and 1980s.
The private school added that the teacher’s behaviour included “showing favouritism to some students, while being unduly punitive to others, instilling fear and uncertainty in his victims”.
The investigation also found that “an allegation appears to have come to the school’s attention and the teacher departed shortly thereafter”.
The findings come after an investigation conducted by American-based T&M Protection Resources.
Julie Freudenheim and Laura Kirschstein served as the lead investigators in the seven-month inquiry, which started in February.
The school said a total of 21 interviews were conducted, “including some on more than one occasion”.
The investigation also included evidence from 12 former pupils at what was at the time an all-boys school at the primary level.
A school spokeswoman said the teacher was not named to protect the people involved.
She added: “In addition, we do not wish to inadvertently jeopardise any future action on the part of authorities.”
She said that the Bermuda Police Service and “relevant Bermuda authorities” had received the T&M report.
A letter released yesterday said that the scope of the investigation included “pursuing any allegations of a similar nature against any other faculty or staff members that may have emerged during their investigation”.
It added: “They reported that no other issues were raised regarding any other teacher or staff member.”
The letter said that the school was “grateful” to the former pupils who spoke about their experiences.
It added: “Only the truth will allow us to learn, improve and protect the safety of students today and in the future.
“It was the silence of the past that enable such predators.”
The letter said that the investigation was launched because of the responsibility of the school towards its former pupils.
It added: “We owed them the respect to hear their stories and seek the truth.
“In today’s world, when we are much more knowledgable about the darkness that exists and the reverberating impact it can have on victims — well into their adulthood — we can understand how traumatising this must have been.
“We also believe that only by coming to terms with the truth of our past can we move forward as a community.
“We are responsible for the safety, wellbeing and happiness of our students, and we must ensure that we do everything in our power to prevent this unforgivable situation from ever happening again.”
Debi Ray-Rivers, executive director of Saving Children and Revealing Secrets, said that the charity had been told that the former Saltus teacher was still alive, but overseas.
She added that the charity was concerned about children that live in the same area as the former Saltus teacher.
Ms Ray-Rivers added: “Now that the appropriate authorities have been made aware of this matter, it is our hope that there is a similar organisation like Scars in his community that is advocating for child sex abuse prevention.”
She said that she hoped victims would receive “the support they need for healing” and that she was encouraged by the action taken by the school.
Ms Ray-Rivers said: “Through our work with them, we have confidence that they are doing all the right things when it comes to child protection in relation to child sexual abuse prevention.”
The Bermuda Police did not respond to questions on whether a criminal investigation had been launched.
• On occasion The Royal Gazette may decide to not allow comments on a story that we deem might inflame sensitivities. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers. To read the statement from Debi Ray-Rivers, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”
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