The scandal-hit American School in Japan admitted Friday that it concealed decades of sexual abuse it said was committed by former teacher Jack Moyer and offered its first public apology since the scandal broke in March last year.
“Survivors attempted many times to expose abuse, and we are ashamed to report that they were rebuffed or ignored by the school,” the international school’s board of directors said in a message to alumni on Friday.
“We apologize for the great harm that was caused by teachers and administrators who failed to protect the students in their charge,” the school said, vowing to ensure the “safest possible environment” for present and future students.
“We failed you and we should have done more.”
In the letter, the school in Chofu, western Tokyo, said that it was committed to reimbursing all victims for counseling costs and that it will disclose the full report compiled by Boston-based law firm Ropes & Gray, which conducted an independent investigation into the abuse, “on or before June 15.”
The report, which is expected to include accounts by the serial pedophile’s survivors, will be translated into Japanese to help authorities reach out to potential victims. Moyer, a renowned marine biologist, is believed to have remained in contact with Japanese pupils after his retirement from the school in 1984.
The Japan Times has reported that during his employment at ASIJ from 1962 to 1984, Moyer is believed to have abused and raped at least 32 girls. He committed suicide in 2004.
ASIJ also pledged to meet the child safeguarding standards designated by Keeping Children Safe, a London-based agency that offers certification and advice.
In addition, the school will conduct background checks on all potential employees and set up a “safe, anonymous” complaint system where children can blow the whistle on instances of abuse, it said.
After repeatedly urging the school to take responsibility for their prolonged suffering, 13 victims of Moyer’s abuse heralded Friday’s announcement as a major step forward in closing a dark chapter in their lives.
“We, thirteen survivors of Jack Moyer’s sexual abuse, applaud and celebrate the crucial steps that the new ASIJ board is taking to understand and address what happened to us and ensure that current and future students are safe,” they said in a joint statement.
Referring to the “compassion,” “tireless support” and “extraordinary guidance” shown by their fellow ASIJ alumni and lawyers, they concluded the statement with a tribute to the school: “Having gone through this together will make ASIJ a stronger, safer community in the future, and as a result, we are once again proud to say that WE ARE ASIJ.”