|www.corpun.com : Archive : 2003 : US Schools May 2003|
School CP - May 2003
Corpun file 11096
Omaha World-Herald, Nebraska, 3 May 2003
Priest's N.Y. accusers shocked to hear of his move to Boys Town
By Stephen Buttry
ALBANY, N.Y. - Before the Rev. James Kelly came to Boys Town in the 1970s, he was urging boys to drop their pants in the principal's office at a New York high school, several former students there say.
One former student alleged in a recent interview that Kelly molested him in the office after telling him to pull down his pants.
"He touched me and told me, 'Don't be afraid. God will forgive you,'" said the 43-year-old Albany man, who agreed to talk on the condition that he be identified only by his first name, Bob.
Bob was one of six former students at Keveny Memorial Academy in Cohoes, N.Y., who told in recent interviews with The World-Herald about conversations in Kelly's office that often turned to sex and masturbation.
Another former student, identified only as David, told the Albany Times-Union that Kelly molested him after asking him to drop his pants for a spanking.
One former student remembers being "shocked by the absurdity" when he learned Kelly was going to work at Boys Town.
Three others agreed, saying they recalled laughing at the news. "We all said, 'The poor kids at Boys Town,'" one said.
Kelly was accused in recent lawsuits of molesting two boys when he was at Boys Town from 1975 to 1983. A third man said in an interview with The World-Herald that Kelly molested him while he was at Boys Town. Those lawsuits also allege abuse by Michael Wolf, a former counselor who left Boys Town in 1983 and died in 1990. A third lawsuit alleges abuse only by Wolf.
James Martin Davis, the attorney hired by Boys Town to investigate the allegations raised in the lawsuits, said Boys Town received no indication of sexual misconduct before hiring Kelly.
Kelly denies abusing boys in New York or at Boys Town. He said he spanked boys with their pants down, a practice he said was acceptable at the time.
"I used to tell parents the only way you should discipline a child is to hit him on his bare butt with your bare hand," Kelly said in an interview this week from Carson City, Nev., "I'm in trouble now because I followed the advice I gave parents. . . . There was no fondling. There was no touching of genitals at all."
He acknowledges that he talked to boys about masturbation, but says he brought it up only in asking the youths about possible sins they might confess.
After the first lawsuit was filed, Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard placed Kelly on administrative leave, pending an investigation. Kelly was a prison chaplain in Carson City.
The Albany Diocese investigated a complaint against Kelly in the 1980s, after he returned to New York from Boys Town, and concluded then and in a review last year that the incident did not constitute sexual abuse. As a precaution, though, the diocese sent him for therapy.
Ken Goldfarb, communication director for the Albany Diocese, said the investigation is continuing. He did not know details of the 1980s incident.
"Whatever that event was, it was enough to prompt some sort of evaluation and therapy," Goldfarb said.
Kelly said that complaint related to his spanking kids on their bare bottoms. Both investigations, he said, concluded that "there was nothing sexual in that at all." His therapy, he said, had to do with "anger and rigidity."
The accusations by former students at Keveny and Boys Town have similarities:
• Former students from both places, including some who don't say they were molested, said Kelly asked them uncomfortable, detailed questions about masturbation and other sexual practices.
• Former students from both places say Kelly asked improper questions during confession. Two former Boys Town youths say Kelly molested them during confession.
• Former students from both places recall him encouraging them to pull down their pants.
Those who say they resisted Kelly's encouragement to drop their pants say he never molested them. They spoke only on condition they not be identified.
Some recall him staring at the genitals of naked boys.
"This priest never looked above our waistlines in the 10 minutes that he grilled us," recalled a 45-year-old Albany man. He said Kelly stopped him and his brother as they came out of the shower after baseball practice, the last boys to leave.
A Keveny classmate of that man said another youth stripped to retrieve a dock that was floating away at a church camp on Lake Luzerne, where Kelly often took groups of youths.
Kelly walked up as the naked youth came ashore. "Kelly was talking right to his (penis)," the former student said. "He never took his eyes off."
Kelly said he did not recall such incidents.
The former Keveny students said that when teachers sent them to the principal's office for discipline, Kelly asked uncomfortable questions, then presented manipulative choices.
A baseball player said he had to choose six weeks of detention, missing nearly the whole baseball season, or physical punishment. When he chose spanking, the former student said, he faced another choice: 30 to 40 swats with pants up, fewer with pants down but underwear up and fewer still on his bare bottom.
Another former student got the choice between detention and private confession.
Kelly said he did give boys the choices of punishments and did give fewer swats if they took their pants down. However, he denied presenting confession as a disciplinary choice.
Whether in confession or in a discussion before paddling a youth, the former students said, Kelly asked explicit questions about the boy's sex experience: Had he had sexual relations with a girl? Did he masturbate? How much semen did he ejaculate?
"This guy could talk about the weather, and it ends up at masturbation," one former student said.
Kelly denied talking about sex with youths except in properly counseling them about sexual sins. "They are really using their imaginations," he said. "I would never get that ridiculous."
If a youth told him that he masturbated, Kelly said, "I would tell him he had to stop."
Jim Zareski of Malta, N.Y., a 1974 Keveny graduate, remembers that Kelly paddled him for smoking. Told about the choices other students recalled, Zareski said, "I don't remember that. I know my pants stayed up."
Richard Litwa, who taught math at Keveny, remembers that Kelly and a dean of discipline handled corporal punishment, but he did not notice or hear about any improper behavior.
"I have the highest regard for him," Litwa said.
Several former Boys Town residents also praised Kelly and said they doubted the accusations.
One Keveny student who never went to the office for discipline said Kelly summoned him anyway. He and another student faced the same questions about sex, under the guise of a sex-education lecture.
"I can only liken it to foreplay," the former student said. He said he answered every question by saying he didn't know. "I remember thinking, 'If this guy touches me, I'm going to punch him in the face, make a break for my door and tell my father.'"
However, he didn't tell his parents. None of the former students interviewed did.
Students talked and joked among themselves and gave Kelly insulting nicknames, but those who were interviewed didn't tell their parents, police or church authorities.
Bob still hasn't told his parents or his wife.
As a freshman at Keveny, Bob was summoned to the office in October and told that the principal interviewed all freshmen. Kelly closed the door, Bob said, and started by asking routine questions about his family and why he came to Keveny.
Then, Bob said, Kelly asked if the youth was sexually active. "He asked me, when I go to the bathroom, do I play with myself?"
The second time he was called to the office, he said, Kelly told him to pull down his pants and show how he touched himself when he went to the bathroom.
Then Kelly fondled the youth's genitals, Bob said. He estimates he was molested similarly on eight or nine occasions.
Bob was sure no one would believe him if he told. "In '73 I think it was a different world," Bob said. "Priests were priests, and you respected them."
As Bob grew up, he had difficulty with relationships and had a mental breakdown.
He was shocked to read news reports this year about Kelly being accused of abuse in the suits against Boys Town. "I thought he was dead," Bob said
Bob finally told his story to a lawyer, John Aretakis, who has several clients alleging abuse by priests, but has not filed suit.
"I've got some relief that I've told somebody."
Kelly said the accusations stemming from his time at Boys Town have ended his career. "Every priest is scared to death that somebody from his past is going to bring something up for money."
Corpun file 11087
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Texas, 10 May 2003
Southland Taping Incident
Re: The letter "Southland Teacher Applauded" (A-J, 5-2).
Here we go again. People are wanting to condemn me for protecting my child. My son has asthma and cannot breathe through his nose very well. He was one of the children who had his mouth taped shut. I agree, wholeheartedly, he should have shut his mouth when he was told to by his teacher. But that did not give the teacher the right to tape his mouth shut.
I believe in corporal punishment, and I believe the school knows this. The teacher in question was told to send my son to the office and have his tail busted if he gave any trouble and that, if it continued, to have me called and I would put a stop to it. From the teacher's own words, he was sent to the office, but not busted. I never received a phone call. What this teacher did is outright abuse, in my opinion.
The horrid thing about it is that if I were to do something like this to my child at home and someone found out my child could be taken away from me, and I could be in jail for abuse. What makes a teacher any different? Do the child abuse laws go out the window when the abuse is done by a teacher?
Support the teacher all you want to, but when you do, in my opinion, what you are doing is supporting abuse.
Corpun file 11134
The Facts, Brazosport, Texas, 22 May 2003
School dumps policies
By Carlos Armintor
ANGLETON - The Angleton ISD Board of Trustees has dumped its zero-tolerance policy regarding weapons on campus and their policy on the use of corporal punishment.
The changes were part of the district's revised student handbook, including its student code of conduct, which was adopted Tuesday by trustees.
Board President Renard Thomas said the district still does not allow weapons, but can judge each individual case on its own merits.
"We have had in the years past this no-tolerance attitude toward weapons," Thomas said. "We have implemented a policy and procedure that gives us greater discretion in these matters."
School Board Member Charlyn Rogers said the old policy called for the expulsion of students if, for example, a pocket knife was found in a car. However, because a pocket knife was found in a car doesn't mean that student should necessarily be expelled, she said.
"I think all the parents want to know the child is safe at school," Rogers said. "I think they want to know we are mindful of what is a weapon and what is not. Sometimes you realize your intent is not the way the rule is written."
Thomas said the decision to stop use of corporal punishment was made for liability reasons.
"You just can't win those situations when they are contested," he said.
Copyright © 2003 The Facts
Mobile Register, Alabama, 23 May 2003
Witness: Teacher broke policies
Administrative hearing is being held for Anthony Ezell in paddling of 12-year-old student that led to lawsuit against school system
By Karen Tolkkinen
GROVE HILL -- A Clarke County special education teacher broke at least eight school policies when he hit a 12-year-old student with a piece of thick rubbery carpet molding, a witness testified Thursday in an administrative hearing at the school board office.
The family of the girl, Katelyn McIntyre, has filed a $3 million claim against the Clarke County School System, contending her rights were violated.
Under Alabama law, filing a claim and presenting a case before an administrative judge is a required step before the family can sue a governmental body such as the school system.
Last fall, her teacher, Anthony Ezell, hit her and three other students each one time with the molding. The discipline left a bruise, said the family. The family had the girl's buttocks photographed.
"I don't think it's acceptable" to leave bruises, testified the system's special education coordinator, Willie Williams. At the same time, he declined to pass judgment on the teacher, saying he wasn't there and didn't know all the circumstances.
Ezell received a written reprimand, according to testimony, and the girl stopped attending school in January. Her family wants Ezell removed from the classroom until he completes special education training. It also wants additional training for employees across the school system.
State law grants criminal and civil immunity to teachers who use corporal punishment as long as they follow school policy.
Ezell did not, said expert witness James Irby of Athens, a former school superintendent and also a lawyer who represents families of disabled students.
Irby contended that Ezell violated school policy by:
Allowing other students to be present while McIntyre was disciplined. School policy forbids students to watch the corporal punishment of other students.
Hitting the girl on her buttocks and hip. School policy specifies that corporal punishment be administered only to the buttocks.
Using the molding. School police requires a paddling instrument to be "wisely selected." Irby said the molding is like a leather strap that can wrap around the body. However, the school system's attorney, Bruce Wilson, raised the possibility that Ezell thought the molding might be softer than the traditional wood paddles. And Williams, who is also assistant superintendent, said he might use the device on his own children.
"Probably, if I couldn't find anything else at my house, sure," he testified.
Failing to consult with the girl's special education team before using corporal punishment. Wilson, however, said the girl had no record of previous disciplinary problems, and the school viewed it as a one-time infraction that had nothing to do with her academic disability.
Failing to use other methods before resorting to paddling. Ezell had issued warnings to the rambunctious class, but Irby contended he could have done more.
As well, the family's attorney, James Sears of Daphne, questioned the system's special education program. Williams, who has been special education coordinator for about 20 years, has no certification in the field. He acknowledged that the girl's education plans -- which he did not write -- were not complete or well-written. He said he was puzzled why the plans indicated her academic progress slipped while in the county's special education program.
"Regrettably in our schools in Alabama we have maintained an archaic approach to special education and discipline of all children," Sears said.
School officials took a different view.
"I'm satisfied" with Clarke County's system, Williams said. "I think it's great."
"I think we make every effort to meet requirements of state and federal law," said school attorney Bruce Wilson.
Testimony is scheduled to continue in late June.
Copyright 2003 al.com. All Rights Reserved.
Corpun file 11131
Jackson Sun, Tennessee, 24 May 2003
Paddling principal won't face charges
By Tajuana Cheshier
South Highland Learning Center Principal Jessie Jacox will not face criminal charges for allegedly using "excessive force" when he paddled a 13-year-old student last month.
Judge Blake Anderson reviewed the case Friday in Jackson City Court and decided against issuing a warrant for Jacox's arrest, said Jackson Police Department Capt. Jerry Priddy.
During court, Anderson raised the issue of conflict of interest because Jacox is a member of the Jackson City Council, which votes on funding for city court. Since Jacox was not re-elected to his seat in Tuesday's election and will not be voting for this budget year, Anderson decided he could hear the case.
The student claimed that Jacox hit him more than 10 times with a wooden paddle across his buttocks on April 25. His foster parents, Mary Lynn and Eldridge Russell, took the teen to the emergency room for treatment of his injuries.
Police say the 13-year-old had deep purple bruises about 3 inches wide and long across his buttocks from the paddling.
Jacox claimed the student was disciplined because he was using racial slurs with some of the other students.
The Russells have been placed under a gag order by Youth Villages and could no longer comment on the incident. Youth Villages Clinical Supervisor Todd Meise said because of anonymity required for the protection of children in foster care, parents and counselors are not allowed to make public comments.
But in their April 29 interview with The Jackson Sun, the Russells said the teen believed he was disciplined for talking in the cafeteria.
"I'm not against paddling in schools. A couple of licks is good for child, but this was assault," Eldridge Russell said in an earlier interview.
Jacox, who did not appear in court Friday morning, said he was confident that he would not be charged for the paddling.
"I followed the state rules, and I've never abused any kids in my 29 years of education," Jacox said Friday. His school is a temporary location for intermediate and middle school students who are removed from their regular schools because of discipline problems. His relationship with the teen has improved after the paddling incident, he said.
"He's been hanging around me all of the time," Jacox said. "The discipline must've worked because now he's a well-behaved student and an enjoyable person to be around."
The Paddling Controversy
About 23 states still have corporal punishment as a legal method of discipline in their schools including in the South, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama.
Vivian Harris, co-president of the PTO at Jackson Central-Merry High School, believes it's only a matter of time before corporal punishment is removed from the schools.
"I still believe that paddling is effective on the elementary and middle school levels," Harris said. "But on the high school level, I think there needs to be another form of discipline because students that age are likely to have resentment and try to fight back."
Across the nation, various organizations have voiced their opinion against corporal punishment in schools.
A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics claimed in 2000 that corporal punishment in schools has an "adverse effect on a student's self-image and school achievement and may contribute to further disruptive and violent student behavior," according to the AAP Web site, www.aap.org
Some parents have expressed to Harris that they don't want their child to paddled in school.
"They holler abuse, but the real abuse is not correcting a student's bad behavior," Harris said.
Pope Elementary School Principal Emily Crabtree is also an advocate of paddling as a last resort to punishment in schools.
"At my school, parents are contacted first, before paddling occurs. Many other options like the extra-mile program, where students are removed from the classroom, help the student cool off and settle down," Crabtree said.
Each Jackson-Madison County school is responsible for documenting how many students are paddled.
"I can probably count on one hand the students we've paddled this year," Crabtree said.
Jackson-Madison County Schools has a six-point guideline for school officials to follow for paddling procedures including: corporal punishment will be used after less stringent measures have failed; instrument used for punishment must be approved by the principal; corporal punishment shall be reasonable; corporal punishment must be administered in the presence of another employee; punishment should be in proportion to the offense and consideration should be given to age, sex, size, physical and emotional condition of the student.
Copyright 2003 The Jackson Sun
WPMI-TV, Mobile, Alabama, 28 May 2003
Corporal punishment in schools
Nikole Patrick reports
(MOBILE, Ala.) May 28 - Mobile County School System Superintendent Dr. Harold Dodge says teachers need to stop and think before paddling. . .or worse.
"It should be done in a reasonable and prudent manner and not in a fit or temper you know. All of it, you grab the hand, you grab a paddle or something, and your temper's there. You're making a mistake," Dodge said.
Some feel several teachers and substitutes have gone way beyond making simple mistakes. Just this spring there were allegations at Ella Grant and Martha Thomas Elementary schools that a substitute and a student teacher used duct tape and other restraints to discipline students.
Local parents NBC 15 News interviewed say that form of discipline is unacceptable. "They need to follow the proper channels. Go to the principal and deal with it with the parent right there," said parent Terry Cayhill.
Dr. Dodge said he and the school board are looking at creating stricter guidelines for teachers to make sure they follow the proper channels. He says that starts with details outlined in the code of conduct book.
Current guidelines allow paddling on the rear end, but forbid restraints.
There are guidelines when it comes to paddling. It should not be administered in front of other students, and another professional adult should be present and written reports should be kept on the punishment.
The guidelines also state corporal punishment should only be used as a last resort.
Dr. Dodge says he and the board will work on a list of other do's and dont's this summer to hopefully have in effect by the fall. He says failure for teachers to follow the rules could send them straight to the unemployment line.
Dr. Dodge says one big concern for the school board is lawsuits. So, one of the things they are looking at is requiring written permission from parents to use corporal punishment. It is important to note that the board cannot rewrite Alabama laws, but they do have some flexibility to adjust the rules.
All content © Copyright 2001 - 2003, WorldNow and WPMI. All Rights Reserved.
Mobile Register, Alabama, 28 May 2003
Board set to revisit corporal punishment
By Rhoda A. Pickett
Although the school year has ended, the Mobile County public school board members wants [sic] to spend part of the summer break making sure its corporal punishment policy is clear and understandable.
Board members met during a marathon session Tuesday night at Barton Academy, interrupting one of several hearings to hold a two-hour regular meeting. Board members voted unanimously Tuesday to postpone approving a corporal punishment measure until they get "stronger language."
Board member Hazel Fournier reiterated her concerns from last week's meeting that she was concerned that the board and school administrators needed to fine tune the language regarding corporal punishment.
"Some people have taken it out of hand," Fournier said. "We do have some employees have said that state law allows it and they go on, but some have taken it to the point that it can be perceived as cruelty."
At question was the adoption of a proposed revision to the school system's Student Code of Conduct. Fournier argued that the revision still needed work. Board member David Thomas Jr. agreed, arguing that the policy needed to be clear enough to avoid situations like the one that is believed to have taken place Clarke County.
In the Clarke County case a special education teacher is accused of hitting three students one time each with a piece of thick, rubbery carpet molding, causing severe bruises on a 12-year-old student. The girl's family has filed a $3 million lawsuit against the Clarke County School System.
State law grants criminal and civil immunity to teachers who use corporal punishment as long as they follow school policy.
"We need to know if it's a policy that will protect this board," Thomas said.
The board introduced the proposed policy change on April 22, and requested input from school administrators and other school system departments. A public hearing was held on May 6.
Superintendent Harold Dodge said just as the board was headed into executive session that there were 500 corporal punishment incidents during the 2002-2003 school year, down from 1,000 such incidents during the previous year.
Copyright 2003 al.com. All Rights Reserved.
THE ARCHIVE index
www.corpun.com Main menu page
Copyright © Colin Farrell 2003, 2004
Page updated: June 2004