Thacher School In Ojai Acknowledges Decades of Sex Abuse Allegations
The exclusive Thacher School in Ojai has disclosed decades of allegations of sexual misconduct
The Thacher School is an elite boarding school in Ojai, California. It has just over 250 students and costs nearly $65,000 a year to attend. Recently, the school admitted that there had been multiple and extensive allegations of sexual abuse by its faculty and staff. As a result, it hired a law firm to conduct an investigation into the alleged sexual misconduct. On June 16, 2021, Thacher released the law firm’s report on the investigation.
What Sexual Abuse is Alleged at Thacher?
The allegations in the report are detailed and disturbing. Below are a few examples of alleged sexual misconduct. The names are fictitious for privacy:
- Karen. A Thacher of English teachers befriended 15-year-old Karen. She would often stop by the teacher’s house to walk his dog. One evening, after a walk, Karen returned to the teacher’s house, where he kissed her and touched her without consent. A few months later, after she had turned 16, the teacher raped Karen. This sexual assault continued throughout the victim’s sophomore year. Karen ended up in therapy.
- Maria. A soccer coach and teacher at Thacher became very close to Maria, a senior. Maria confessed to the coach that she was thinking about dropping the teacher’s class. The teacher threatened to inform the colleges Maria had applied to about the dropped class. Maria began crying, and the teacher hugged her and began massaging her back without consent. The teacher then reached under her shirt and touched her breasts. Over the next few months, the inappropriate conduct continued. Maria never reported the misconduct, afraid that she would be punished or not believed.
- Multiple victims. The report identified several allegations of wrongdoing by Bill Wyman, who was the Headmaster at Thacher for several years in the 1980s and early 1990s. He would tell offensive jokes and asked female students to wear sexy clothes. Mr. Wyman touched students inappropriately on multiple occasions and one time grabbed a student’s bottom. Based on these allegations, Mr. Wyman ultimately resigned.
What Type of Lawsuit Can I File Against Thacher?
If you or a loved one suffered sexual abuse at the hands of an employee at Thacher School, you have several legal theories available for filing a lawsuit. While you can sue the abuser directly, they may not have the financial means to pay you the compensation you deserve.
However, under the Child Victim Act in California, Thacher may be held legally responsible for the misconduct of its employees. The legal theory is called negligent hiring and supervision. To prove this, you must establish the following:
- The employee at Thacher was not fit to perform the work for which they were hired;
- Thacher knew or should have known of the employee’s unfitness and that this created the potential for harm to others;
- The employee’s unfitness caused the victim harm; and
- The victim’s injuries resulted in damages.
A Thacher sex abuse attorney can help you put together the evidence to establish negligent hiring and supervision on Thacher’s part.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit Against Thacher?
For every wrongful or criminal act, there is a limited period of time for the victim to file a lawsuit or for the state to prosecute the crime. This is called the statute of limitations.
In California, a victim of childhood sexual abuse has until the age of 40 to file a sexual abuse lawsuit. Alternatively, a victim over 40 has five years from the time they realized they had been sexually abused.
California also, for a limited time, has a three-year lookback window for childhood victims of sexual misconduct. From January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2022, the victim may file a lawsuit regardless of how long ago the sexual abuse occurred.
The bottom line is that if you’ve been the victim of sexual abuse at Thacher, you should not wait any longer to discuss filing a lawsuit with a sex abuse attorney.
How Much Compensation Will I Receive From The Thacher Abuse Lawsuit?
There is no magic number. The compensation a victim receives for sexual abuse will vary depending on the strength of the case, the severity of injuries and misconduct, the defense presented by Thacher, and several other factors. Your sex abuse attorney can review the facts of your specific case and further discuss potential compensation.
What Types of Damages Can I Receive?
Once you’ve proven your claim of sexual abuse, you may receive several types of compensation, or damages, from Thacher. These include economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
These are expenses directly related to the injuries the sexually abused victim suffered and include medical expenses and diminished earning capacity.
Medical expenses not only include past medical expenses but also anticipated future costs, such as:
- Doctor visits
- Prescriptions for pain medication
Diminished earning capacity refers to lesser income earned due to the victim’s injuries. For example, a victim of sexual abuse may suffer severe emotional distress throughout their life. This may significantly limit their ability to earn a living resulting in a diminished earning capacity over their lifetime.
These damages are designed to compensate the victim for the pain and suffering associated with their injuries. Typically, a jury will look at several factors when considering non-economic damages. These include the extent of medical bills, the severity of the injury, and reviewing the victim’s testimony. Damages for pain and suffering can be substantial in a sexual assault case.
Punitive damages may be available when the defendant acts with oppression, fraud, or malice. They are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in similar conduct. In a claim against Thacher, you would have to show that the school acted with a willful and conscious disregard of your rights or safety.
Consult a Sex Abuse Attorney Today
If you or a loved one suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a Thacher employee, contact a sex abuse lawyer to get the help you need. The lawyer can discuss the details of your case and, if appropriate, file a lawsuit against Thacher on your behalf. They will zealously represent you in your sexual abuse claim.
- June 17, 2021
Thacher, a California Prep School, Apologizes for Past Sex Abuse
The New York Times
- June 17, 2021
Elite $64,700-a-year California Thacher boarding school releases bombshell report detailing four decades of sexual misconduct by teachers against teenage students
Daily Mail UK
- June 4, 2021
Ex-student sues elite Marin high school, says renowned coach failed to respond to assistant’s sexual abuse
San Francisco Chronicle
- July 9, 2019
Federal judge’s ruling moves former Hotchkiss School student’s sexual abuse lawsuit toward trial