When we send our children to school, we expect that the school, its principal, teachers and its faculty are going to protect our children.
Children are taught to respect and honor parental authority figures such as teachers, guidance counselors, and principals and not to question their actions. We trust our schools to protect our most vulnerable … yet children are being sexually molested by the very people who are supposed to protect them. Most abusers remain undetected and free to continue their abuse of power and violation of professional ethics.
It never enters into our minds that a “beloved” teacher would touch our children inappropriately or have sex with them.
The sad reality is that it does happen and it recently took place in Naples, Fl.
On May, 19th, Robin Sax, a California-based attorney and former sex crimes prosecutor, who is a frequent network TV commentator on high-profile legal cases and a national expert in child sexual abuse, and Jeff Herman, a nationally-recognized advocate for survivors of childhood sexual abuse filed filing of a new lawsuit against The Village School, a Naples-area private school affiliated with the North Naples United Methodist Church, for the sexual abuse of a 9 year old student at the school.
The nine year old little girl was touched inappropriately by her homeroom teacher, Steven Noyes. The police investigated the case, but when the teacher in question didn’t cooperate, they dropped the ball. The teacher was not willing to talk to police nor take a poly.
The parents are really amazing and brave. They are standing up for their little girl in the way every parent should not just by believing her but by doing everything right from the first minute until now. Obviously, they are devastated but remain strong and committed to what is right.
WHO BELIEVES JANE DOE?
A little girl comes home with a terrible secret, she’s just been touched by her favorite teacher; touched in a way she knows is wrong. What any one familiar with sexual assault will know is that this is was likely the beginning of the touching while the grooming of Jane Doe happened for months.
Jane Doe does exactly what we teach our children to do. If someone touches you inappropriately – TELL someone.
And that’s just what Jane Doe did. But what happened next has left her family hurt, angry and ready to fight for justice for this very brave little girl.
The injustice begins in a tight-knit Naples, FL community at a school dedicated to Christian values where Doe has been a student since kindergarten. She is an outgoing, kind girl, who still to this day doesn’t even get the sexual nature of a breast touch as sex, and breasts even being sexual are not even on her radar.
Her parents are the kind of people you’d want in your community, in your school, and as the support system to a traumatized kid. You want them as your friends. They are church going, softball playing, parents who take pride in their value-driven life. In fact, they chose Doe’s school because of its mission of, “educating the child’s mind, body, and spirit through Christian values in an ever-changing world.”
Since the day they told Doe’s story to the school, they’ve felt anything but Christian values.
Just after Christmas break Jane Doe is in her homeroom class working on her math homework and gets stumped on a long division problem and asks her teacher for help. She goes up to her teacher’s desk, and that’s when it happens.
As Doe tells her mother and father, the teacher began helping her with her first question. He put his hand under her dress and on her knee. Then, he reached his hand up her back and under her shirt, coming around the front to rub her chest. He keeps his hand there while he helps her with three other math problems.
Afterwards, Doe thanks him and returns to her seat.
The parents didn’t panic, but they did want answers. They approached the head of the school and heard her say, “This is all my fault, I shouldn’t have let him hug the children.”
Then things quickly turned from bad to worse. The school expels little Jane Doe (THE MOST EGREGIOUS PART OF THIS CASE!!) The teacher, has refused to cooperate with police, has returned to his job.
PRIOR TO ANY LAWSUIT, attorneys made many attempts to simply get answers. There was no desire to sue — just a desire to make sure there was a proper police and school investigation. While the police partially did their job, the school failed this family, and Jane Doe. Attorneys tried to get information, and were told the only way to do it was to bring a case.
Thus, THE LAWSUIT:
This is the story of a father who believes, and is standing up for his little girl. It’s about a mother who wants to make sure no other child goes through the pain and suffering her daughter has. The goal in filing a suit is to get answers, to hold the school accountable, to make sure that this case is not simply swept under the rug. It is our goal to have a safe forum for people to come forward as we know that there are likely other victims out there.
Child sexual abuse has reached epidemic proportions in schools throughout our nation and has become an alarmingly frequent occurrence. The cases that are surfacing almost daily serve as a wake-up call to everyone in America to protect our children!
The teacher is by all accounts “beloved” and has a clean record. The same scenario goes for the “priests” who sexually abuse children and all of the other people who choose careers working with children, only to groom them and then sexually abuse them. That’s the typical M.O. of a child abuser.
We must seek justice for Jane Doe and her family – and for all of the other Jane and John Does who this happens to.
To believe it can’t happen to us and our children – that no one we know would ever abuse our kids, and certainly not someone entrusted with their care or well-being — is to live in denial. Sexual abusers tend to choose occupations that put them in close contact with children. They can be found in every profession. They are heterosexual and homosexual — they don’t discriminate.
Covering up abuse in schools sends a message to the abuser that it is acceptable behavior. We must report the abuser and get help for the children. School boards must send a message that they care and accept zero tolerance.
Jane Doe should have justice. This never should have happened to her. She should not have been touched inappropriately by her teacher, nor should she have been told to leave school for telling the truth.
Jane Doe’s claim must be corroborated. Local news comments are aimed at discrediting her and her family.
Steven Noyes lived with his parents in Maine and taught there. Subsequently he moved to Naples, Fl where he lives alone in his parent’s apartment and teaches at the Village School.
If you see something – say something! If you know something – report it!
We must start to protect our children instead of protecting the people who hurt them. We must protect Jane Doe!
If you know of a case like this in Florida – Report it to law enforcement and call Child Protective Services in Florida (800) 962-2873
If you know of a case like this in Maine – Report it to law enforcement and call Child Protective Services in Maine (800) 452-1999
Or you can call the National Child Abuse Hotline at National Hotline 1-800-422-4453
Child Advocate, Media Commentator
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Love Our Children USA