A sexual abuse investigation at Ojai’s Thacher Faculty ends with no fees

A legal investigation into many years of sexual abuse allegations at one in every of California’s most prestigious non-public colleges has ended with no fees filed.

The efforts of detectives and prosecutors every now and then to look into the handfuls of allegations on the Thacher Faculty in Ojai have been hampered by a lot of issues, together with restrictions and the college’s resolution in 2020 to rent a non-public regulation agency to analyze. the incidents, the Ventura County sheriff’s and district lawyer’s places of work mentioned Wednesday in joint assertion

Final yr, in extraordinary public disclosure, the elite boarding college posted a report on its web site compiling reviews of alleged rape, groping, undesirable touching and inappropriate feedback relationship again 40 years. The 90-page doc recognized six alleged perpetrators by title and recounted alleged efforts by former college directors to cowl up complaints and blame teenage victims.

Though the statute of limitations has expired in a lot of the instances reviewed by detectives and prosecutors, authorities this week sought to focus on issues brought on by the report by Los Angeles regulation agency Munger, Tolles & Olson and the college’s resolution to launch the conclusions of the corporate. earlier than regulation enforcement might examine.

“When suspects are alerted to attainable crimes in a public report previous to police involvement, the probability of gathering statements from these suspects to verify or deny allegations turns into exceedingly tough,” in response to the assertion.

Suspects can refuse to be interviewed, refer inquiries to legal professionals or take steps “to keep away from notification and phone by the police altogether,” all of which occurred through the Thacher investigation, authorities mentioned.

A spokesman for Munger, Tolles & Olson didn’t reply to a request for remark Wednesday evening.

The regulation agency and the college “cooperated in offering supplies” to detectives and prosecutors, authorities mentioned. From July to December 2021, Munger, Tolles & Olson delivered greater than 1,000 digital recordsdata to the Sheriff’s Workplace documenting the agency’s administrative investigation into the Thacher Faculty.

Detectives recognized about 100 legal instances that required follow-up, relationship again to the Nineteen Sixties and together with “some instances that grew to become recognized through the 2021 college yr,” authorities mentioned.

Solely three of roughly 100 potential legal instances on the Thacher Faculty have been submitted to prosecutors for submitting consideration.

(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Instances)

Most had been discovered to be past the statute of limitations based mostly on an preliminary studying of the Munger, Tolles & Olson report. Nonetheless, authorities reviewed every case in an try and “uncover details triggering the longest out there limitation,” in response to the assertion. Detectives gave every sufferer a possibility to debate and report their abuse, and to obtain survivor advantages and assets, and investigators accomplished a report for every affected pupil, authorities mentioned.

Solely three instances had been introduced to the district lawyer’s workplace for submitting consideration this yr, however prosecutors declined to file fees “because of the expiration of the statute of limitations,” in response to the assertion.

“The remaining instances weren’t submitted to the district lawyer’s workplace as a result of they clearly fell exterior the statute of limitations, the victims sought no prosecution, or no crime could possibly be established,” authorities mentioned.

Whereas the sheriff’s workplace appeared into the person allegations of sexual assault, the district lawyer’s workplace appeared into whether or not college directors did not report suspected abuse as required by regulation.

Investigators and prosecutors from the district lawyer’s workplace examined greater than 50 incidents for attainable failure to report youngster abuse crimes, reviewing supplies offered by Munger, Tolles & Olson and interviewing victims and faculty workers, in response to the assertion. In every case, they decided that fees couldn’t be filed.

Normally, authorities mentioned, the statute of limitations had expired, college workers had been unaware of the abuse, or there was no underlying crime to set off necessary reporting necessities. In some instances, college directors made well timed reviews of suspected abuse to regulation enforcement, prosecutors discovered.

Throughout the investigation, the district lawyer’s Juvenile Prosecution Unit filed a legal case in Juvenile Court docket for an alleged crime that occurred on campus, however the case just isn’t associated to the sexual abuse allegations that had been being investigated, authorities mentioned.

The legal investigation started practically a yr after Thacher Faculty trustees in August 2020 employed Munger, Tolles & Olson to make an inquiry spurred by an alumni social media marketing campaign that included the Instagram account @rpecultureattacher. The account described itself as a “protected house” for these victimized on the college. The regulation agency’s investigation included interviews with greater than 120 former college students, dad and mom, and present and former college and workers.

A few week earlier than publicly releasing the report in June 2021, an lawyer from Munger, Tolles & Olson and an administrator for Thacher “delivered the preliminary notification” to the Sheriff’s Workplace, in response to Wednesday’s assertion.

The sheriff’s and prosecutor’s places of work mentioned colleges and different establishments which can be conscious of previous allegations of sexual assault ought to contact regulation enforcement as quickly as attainable, noting that within the Thacher investigation, “the passage of time has made many attainable crimes and tough to analysis and outdoors. relevant restrictions.”

Though no fees have been filed, authorities have inspired victims of beforehand unreported sexual assaults at Thacher or elsewhere to contact regulation enforcement.

“The challenges inherent within the instances mentioned right here will not be essentially current in each unreported case of sexual assault,” authorities mentioned.

Prosecutors and the Sheriff’s Workplace lately created a sexual assault chilly case unit, in response to the assertion, and victims of sexual assault can obtain help from the Ventura County Household Justice Heart whether or not they wish to report a criminal offense to regulation enforcement or not.

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