2012 Teacher Sex Scandals
Vol. 11 No. 3
The 2011–2012 school year has certainly been newsworthy. Bus accidents, bullying cases, and teacher/student sex scandals have made headlines and topped Twitter feeds throughout the year. It has been one tail-spinning year of risk management concerns. But, among these headlining topics, perhaps the most troubling stories have been those involving student sexual abuse.
No child of any age is mentally prepared to cope with sexual abuse, and the effects such relations can have are life-altering. Children who have been sexually assaulted can develop low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness, and a distorted view of sex. Victims may also become suicidal. Determining whether a child is being abused is not easy. Symptoms of abused children are not often obvious. However, some signs that may surface are:
- Sleep problems or nightmares
- Depression or withdrawal from friends and family
- Conduct issues
- Unusual aggressiveness
- Read more about sexual abuse effects and symptoms here
Each year, 80,000 child abuse cases are reported. Cases that involve school faculty members or staffs are especially of concern. These cases not only profoundly affect the child, but they also negatively impact the school, and potentially damage its long term success.
One Web site has collected 262 cases of schoolyard child sexual abuse since January 2011. These cases involve teachers and staff members who have engaged in sexual relations with minors. Of those, here are just a few examples that raise school liability concerns.
In one example, math teacher Richard Hovan from a private school in Bronx, NY, was charged with carrying on, and engaging in, sexual contact with an underage (16-years-old) student. In court, it was brought out that this was not Hovan’s first account of acting inappropriately with a student. Although no charges were filed previously, while teaching math at a private school in Pennsylvania, Hovan engaged in an inappropriate relationship with another student under the age of 17.
In another example, teacher Terah Allyn Rawlings of Hilltop Baptist School in El Paso County, Texas was charged with eight counts of sexual assault on a child after her two and a half-year relationship with a student was brought to the authorities attention. Anonymous sources reported that the school covered up the relationship until a staff member called the sheriff against the school’s permission. Hilltop Baptist closed in 2011 due to declining enrollment, but the staff still faces charges of concealment. Along with Rawlings, the school’s Senior Pastor, Franklin Knight, and the school’s former Athletic Director, Alan Knight were also arrested. They have been revealed as family members of Rawlings.
And, has anyone forgotten about the Penn State sex scandal? Penn State’s case doesn’t involve teachers and students, instead a coach and young boys, but it certainly rattled hearts and minds of people nationwide. The case continues to bring out disheartening facts, and most recently other repercussions have surfaced such as the disbandment of Jerry Sandusky’s troubled youth program, Second Mile. Read more about Second Mile.
Other ISM resources of interest
ISM Monthly Update for Human Resources Vol. 10 No. 3 Lessons From the Penn State Scandal
Other ISM resources of interest for Consortium Gold members
I&P Vol. 37 No. 5 Child Abuse Law and Mandatory Reporting Procedures
I&P Vol. 30 No. 7 Revisit Your School’s Policy Concerning Child Sexual Abuse