Ojai boarding faculty counselor with abuse historical past sexually abused pupil, swimsuit alleges
A former pupil on the Thacher School is suing the celebrated Ojai boarding faculty, alleging she was repeatedly sexually abused by a counselor and soccer coach who was employed regardless of the headmaster figuring out the person left an East Coast faculty due to an inappropriate relationship with a feminine pupil.
Jennifer Christiansen Vurno, who’s now 44, alleges that John Friborg, her highschool faculty counselor and soccer coach, groped her quite a few occasions, kissed her and digitally penetrated her in 1996. Her swimsuit, filed in Ventura County Superior Court, is at the very least the second in opposition to the college because the 2021 school-commissioned report revealed a long time of abuse and allegations on the campus.
“In my senior year, at the most desperate and struggling moments, I went to John Friborg to seek help. I looked to him for guidance and care, trusting completely in his ability to help and support me,” Vurno mentioned at a news convention Wednesday, asking reporters to make use of her title. “He took this trust and belief and used it against me to perpetrate the most heinous of crimes of sexual abuse against my 17-year-old self.”
Vurno mentioned she didn’t know that just about 10 years earlier than, in 1987, when Friborg joined the Thacher workers, “he was hired despite admitting to a school administrator that he had dated a female high school soccer player at his previous high school, the Governor’s Academy.” She mentioned she was so embarrassed and fearful as a teen she couldn’t report it. A yr after her abuse, three different younger survivors of his abuse reported it to the college, and he quietly left, based on the lawsuit.
Her sexual assaults, she mentioned, “were compounded by the silence and inaction of the school.” The faculty coated up the allegations till a regulation agency report in 2021 detailed a long time of allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment in opposition to college students and “boundary crossing” by school members. The 91-page report was commissioned by Thacher and compiled by attorneys with the Los Angeles agency Munger, Tolles & Olson.
Her lawyer, Paul Mones, mentioned Vurno is among the survivors of the abuse interviewed within the report that identifies Friborg as one of many faculty workers perpetrators of abuse.
School officers didn’t reply to the lawsuit allegations on Wednesday.
According to the college’s personal commissioned report, former Thacher head Michael Mulligan mentioned he labored with Friborg on the Governor’s Academy in Massachusetts and reported to that college that Friborg was having a relationship with a feminine senior soccer participant. According to the report, Friborg was requested to depart on the finish of the college yr because of the connection.”
Mulligan informed investigators for the report that he supported Friborg’s hiring at Thacher as a result of it was “inconceivable” to him Friborg would make a mistake once more.
The faculty report discovered 4 of the coach’s victims at Thacher, together with Vurno, involving grooming, massages and sexual touching. A fellow instructor reported her issues about Friborg to Mulligan, and the college’s headmaster informed her to talk on to the counselor/coach. According to the report, the feminine pupil and her father reported the inappropriate conduct to Mulligan. Then with three college students reporting inappropriate misconduct by Friborg, Mulligan confronted him. Mulligan informed him to resign however by no means reported it to regulation enforcement.
Mulligan led the college from 1992 to 2018. When he retired, the college named its new 412-seat eating corridor after him and his spouse, Joy, a beloved instructor and administrator. In the aftermath of the 2021 report, Mulligan’s title can be faraway from the college due to events during which he “failed to appropriately demonstrate leadership and act when informed of concerns about sexual misconduct.”
The principal who employed Friborg in 1987, Bill Wyman, who served as headmaster from 1975 to 1992, was discovered by the report back to have engaged in “a pattern of offensive verbal conduct and improper touching” towards feminine college students and workers. Wyman resigned after the invention.
Earlier this yr, a former pupil sued the college, alleging that Wyman groped her quite a few occasions when she was 13 and repeatedly made sexual remarks. The habits was so dangerous, the lady mentioned, that different workers intervened in 1982 when he “got too close to her in public.”
In August, the top of the college on the time, Blossom Pidduck, resigned after an prolonged depart of absence following the report’s unveiling. Five months earlier, Pidduck, who attended the college as a baby, revealed she too was a survivor of sexual assault at Thacher.
The Thacher School encourages casual, familial relationships amongst college students and lecturers, who reside on campus, dine and camp collectively. This, mixed with rigorous teachers, has lengthy attracted the scions of among the wealthiest households within the nation, together with a younger Howard Hughes. It focuses on rugged, Western beliefs, with its unofficial motto coming from founder Sherman Day Thacher, who mentioned: “There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a boy.”
Last yr, Thacher’s Board of Trustees established a committee on student safety and well-being, directing the administration to create a process power to reply to allegations of sexual misconduct and retaining an impartial professional to overview the college’s sexual misconduct training and response mechanisms.