The Thacher School, an elite boarding school in Ojai, California, released a 2020 report detailing a long history of sexual misconduct at the school, including a 16-year-old student who was repeatedly raped by her English teacher. The report confirmed that sexual misconduct had been present at the school for four decades, in the form of a 91-page report compiled by an external law firm.
Wednesday, almost a year after a 10-month-long investigation into the $64,000 per year boarding school, the report was posted to the school’s official website, revealing disturbing cases of sexual misconduct between teachers and their teenage students. Within the ”Special Committee Report” are messages from the Board Chair, Dan Yih, and the Head of School, Blossom Beatty Pidduck.
Attached is the 91-page report by Hailyn Chen and Robyn Bacon, which details faculty sexual misconduct and the 10-month-long investigation that uncovered the truth about the boarding school. The report also provides recommendations for corrective actions the boarding school needs to make to protect its students going forward.
The disturbing report lists alleged sexual misconduct that spans 40 years and includes accounts of inappropriate comments, non-consensual touching, and even teachers sexually assaulting students. In one case, a student, named Student A in the report, was groomed by Timothy Regan, an English teacher who started at Thacher School in 1985.
Student A’s report was corroborated by witness statements that claim the relationship between Regan and the 16-year-old girl was inappropriate, however, Student A was coached by the teacher not to reveal the nature of their relationship. In one instance, faculty expressed concerns about Regan’s relationship with Student A, between her Freshman and Sophomore year.
Regan quelled the concern by explaining that “[Student A] demands a lot of my time and I enjoy listening to her,” but that “I am not pleased with having to try and build walls between students and me.” He continued, saying that “I will do my best to avoid ‘playing favorite,’” and even threatened that “should the question of my professionalism come under discussion, it will be time for me to depart the school.”
The report continues to reveal evidence gathered from the 10-month-long investigation, from Timothy Regan’s sexual misconduct to other teachers’ violations, such as “boundary crossing” behavior, harassment, groping, and rape. The Thacher School’s history was unraveled, a long history of instances swept under the rug to protect the school’s reputation and its teachers.
According to the report, Timothy Regan’s alleged abuse of Student A was eventually uncovered by the school, but when the assistant headmaster at the time interviewed the victim, he asked her if she “enjoyed” the sex. A psychologist even dissuaded the girl’s family from pressing criminal charges, and the Regan was left unpunished, having only been asked to resign from the school. A decade later, the Thacher School asked Regan to return to campus for an event.
The report was put together by the law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson last summer after the Thacher School administration learned of sexual misconduct within its school after students wrote about their accounts on the @rpecultureatthacher Instagram account. The account was created to pull the curtain back on the so-called “rape culture” being overlooked at the Thacher School, and it worked.
Daniel Yih, the Chair of the Board of Trustees announced last August the independent probe and encouraged a new culture in which students should come forward with information or witness statements. The investigation lasted 10 months as the law firm questions students, parents, faculty members, and administrators, and reviewed 40,000 documents.
In his letter to the Thacher community, which linked to the expansive report, Yih said that “we have learned a great deal about our history over the past several months—much of which has been difficult to confront. We thank all members of our community for your support, patience, and understanding as we have undertaken this difficult examination of our past.”
Yih continued, saying that “we especially appreciate those who have participated in this process, not only those who have shared painful experiences, but also those who have shown an openness to account for and accept responsibility for past harms. Your acknowledgments have helped start the healing process.”
The current Head of School, Blossom Beatty Pidduck, also acknowledged the report, claiming that “while shining a light on our darkest corners may bring discomfort and complexity, it is essential to aligning our community with the values at Thacher’s core, values we hold dear but clearly have not always embodied.”
Pidduck also addressed the community in her letter, saying that “I am deeply sorry for the ways we—your School—failed you, and for the hurt and harm that failure has wrought.” In the report, the law firm recommended corrective actions that the Thacher School should take to rectify the issue going forward and further protect its students from harm.
The law firm recommends enhanced support for students, improved training and education for faculty, staff, and students, and a more comprehensive response to allegations of sexual misconduct by adults and Thacher students.
The report also provides general strategies to be employed by the school to reduce the risk of sexual misconduct such as “conducting periodic campus climate surveys to better understand students’ perceptions and experiences, identify strengths and areas for improvement, and measure progress on sexual misconduct prevention.”
The Thacher School has agreed to take corrective actions and will work towards providing a safer school for its students, staff, and community.