Prep School Staff Members Take a Stand

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On Wednesday, six brave staff members at the Saint John’s Preparatory School took a stand. The six:

Jennifer Whitehead – Guidance/Counseling
Sally Battig – Executive Administrative Assistant to the Headmaster
Jeffrey R Engholm – Music Teacher
Sandra L. Ernst – Student Accounts and Records
Mary Jo Leighton – Associate Director of Admissions/United States
Jeremy Meyer – Associate Director of Admissions/International Recruitment

Did they speak out against the ridiculous press release sent out last week? No

Did they take a stand against the history of sexual abuse at the Prep School? No

Are they supporting the family of the victim who committed suicide last year? No

Did they speak out in support of the dozens and dozens of other victims? No

Did they demand the results of the Father Ward & Taylor investigations? No

The results of the (former headmaster) Father “Timo” Backous investigation? No

Did they demand that Father Tom Andert be removed as prior? No

Did they question why Father Licari is still headmaster? No

In a series of emails (below), these six staff members asked that their names be removed from this web site.

Their names were listed in an article that was posted on this web site last week [ View ] regarding a press release touting the school’s high-ranking teachers. The press release claimed the teachers were ranked as part of a “comprehensive assessment.” That was not the case.

Included in the post was a comment that the teachers at Saint John’s Preparatory School were “undoubtedly committed, engaged and interested in the well being of their students.”

Despite the positive comments, one teacher wrote:

“I am writing to request that you remove my name from your website found under the page entitled, “Questionable Data Used as Basis for Prep School Press Release.” Given that your website is focused on allegations of sexual abuse of minors, I do not wish to be associated with this website.”

Four of the six emails included a variation of this message, all of which included these words:

I do not wish to be associated… 

I do not blame these six staff members from wanting to distance themselves from the topic of sexual abuse. However, the job they accepted came with that association.

These six staff members are associated with – and connected to – an institution that has a long history of not only the sexual abuse of minors (as their emails suggest) but of sexual misconduct with vulnerable adults, mistreatment of women, along with multiple, substantiated allegations of staff members changing grades for favors, student suicide attempts, and teachers providing alcohol to minors.

These six staff members are associated with – and connected to – an institution whose leadership has failed to release the names of all known offenders and continues to put money, public perception and enrollment above disclosure, transparency and healing.

Do these six staff members believe the abuse, misconduct and harassment ended “decades ago” as the leadership would have them believe? Is the administration focused on healing?

In 2006, the community’s leader, Abbot John Klassen, wrote of one of his monks:

“If the harassment charge against Bruce Wollmering becomes public, it will be perfect fuel for this faculty member to work full force against Bruce and ultimately against the monastic community. It will be difficult for me to lead in this environment.”  – February 17, 2006 Memo from John Klassen

Pressed to make the names of three monks public in 2006, the Abbot refused:

“The Abbot reported that there were many hurdles regarding this issue, including a capital campaign, recruitment issues and access to the database.” – April 21, 2006

Money…
Enrollment…
Public Perception…

The results of publicly announced investigations into allegations of abuse and/or misconduct by three Saint John’s Abbey monks Fathers Dan Ward, Mel Taylor and Timothy Backous have yet to be made public. All three of these men were Prep School Employees.

Do these three credibly accused priests have access to minors and vulnerable adults?

Do these six staff members care?

Disclosure, transparency and healing cannot even begin with this type of secrecy.

These six staff members should take their stand with the institution, not this web site.

I welcome another email from six staff members which calls for us to work together to end the decades of secrecy, work with victims and restore what’s left of a tarnished Prep School legacy.

Patrick J Marker
Webmaster/Advocate

Their written requests:

“I am a member of the staff at Saint John’s Prep School. It has come to my attention that you have listed my name on your website, behindthepinecurtain.com. I am writing to request that you remove my name from your website found under the page entitled, “Questionable Data Used as Basis for Prep School Press Release.” Given that your website is focused on allegations of sexual abuse of minors, I do not wish to be associated with this website. Please remove my name.”   – Sally Battig

“I am a member of the faculty at Saint John’s Prep School.  It has come to my attention that you have listed my name on your website, behindthepinecurtain.com.  I am writing to request that you remove my name from your website found under the page entitled, “Questionable Data Used as Basis for Prep School Press Release.” Given that your website is focused on allegations of sexual abuse of minors, as an educator, I do not wish to be associated with this website, or any of your activities, publications, or press releases.  Please remove my name immediately.” – Jeffrey R Engholm

“I am a member of the faculty at Saint John’s Prep School. It has come to my attention that you have listed my name on your website, behindthepinecurtain.com. I am writing to request that you remove my name from your website found under the page entitled, “Questionable Data Used as Basis for Prep School Press Release.” Given that your website is focused on allegations of sexual abuse of minors, as an educator, I do not wish to be associated with this website. Please remove my name.”   – Jennifer Whitehead

“Please remove my name from your website. Behindthepinecurtain”  – Mary Jo Leighton

“I am a member of the staff at Saint John’s Prep School.  It has come to my attention that you have listed my name on your website, behindthepinecurtain.com.  I am writing to request that you remove my name from your website found under the page entitled, “Questionable Data Used as Basis for Prep School Press Release.” Given that your website is focused on allegations of sexual abuse of minors, as an staff person, I do not wish to be associated with this website.  Please remove my name immediately.” – Sandra L. Ernst

“It was brought to my attention that my name and title are listed on your website, www.behindthepinecurtain.com.  I am asking that my name be removed from your website.” – Jeremy Meyer

Posted: 10:11am on August 6, 2015
Edited: 15:16pm on August 6, 2015

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Topics: Dan Ward, Jennifer Whitehead, Jeremy Meyer, Jonathan Licari, Mary Jo Leighton, Mel Taylor, Sally Battig, Sandra L. Ernst, Tim Backous, Tom Andert

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