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Thacher School Board removes name of former head of school from dining hall, athletic field steps

web 7 23 Thacherpic 

Screenshot of campus building from Thacher School website

Former Head of School Michael Mulligan wrote in a lengthy letter on July 29 that he and his wife will "fight to protect our reputation and good names."

 

By Marianne Ratcliff, Ojai Valley News editor

The Thacher School board voted unanimously July 28 to remove the name of retired Head of School Michael Mulligan from the school dining hall and athletic field steps for “failure to protect Thacher students from harm,” after the release of a June 16 report that included interviews with former students who said Mulligan could have exercised more authority to root out alleged abusers.

The 90-page report, created by the law firm hired by the selective boarding school, lists allegations of past sexual abuse and misconduct by six former faculty members it names and some students at Thacher School, with some incidents going back four decades.

The board’s decision drew an immediate response from Mulligan, head of school from 1992 to 2018, who released a public statement criticizing the report and concluding: “Erasing from the dining hall building my name as well (as) that of my wife, Joy Sawyer-Mulligan, does not address the serious challenges Thacher’s leadership faces. Joy and I will fight to protect our reputation and good names. For us, Honor, Fairness, Kindness, and Truth truly matter.”

The dining hall was named after him and his wife when Mulligan retired three years ago.

The Oberndorf Foundation issued a statement through a spokesperson July 29, requesting “as a sign of support for the Mulligans,” that the “Oberndorf name be removed from the Thacher freshman dorm for which it provided the lead gift. The Foundation also has asked that its donation to Mulligan Hall be repurposed in a way that will teach future generations of Thacher students the importance of living the school’s values of honor, fairness, kindness and truth.”

Also, in a written statement to the Ojai Valley News on July 31, Janice F. Day, who served on the Thacher School Board from 2019-20 as chair of the Thacher Parent Association, wrote: "I disagree with the decision of the Thacher Board to take the Mulligans’ name off of the dining hall.
“Michael Mulligan is a man of great integrity who devoted his professional career to creating a boarding school of the highest caliber with a positive and healthy culture. An accurate record would show that he did everything to protect the children in his charge. I continue to believe the MTO report is flawed by material omissions and inaccuracies which have not been addressed. The report itself (even as it stands) does not justify removal Michael and Joy Mulligan's name.”

An online petition calling for Mulligan's name to be removed from the Thacher dining hall has been signed by more than 500 Thacher graduates, parents, siblings and community members. It can be viewed at: https://accountability4thacher.squarespace.com.

The announcement about the Mulligan name being removed from the campus was made in a July 29 letter from Board Chair Dan Yih, writing on behalf of the Board of Trustees. It lists 13 actions that he wrote were underway prior to the June 16 report’s release, steps taken in recent weeks and those adopted by the board at its July 28 meeting. The letter comes on the heels of a July 15 letter from Thacher listing "corrective actions" the board is taking as a result of the investigation.

In his July 29 letter, Yih wrote, in part: “The investigative report prepared by Munger, Tolles & Olsen, LLP (“MTO”), and new evidence MTO has received since the report, demonstrate that we should have done more to address reports of suspected abuse. This includes identifying predatory grooming behavior, promptly intervening when abuse was occurring, making appropriate reports to authorities, and supporting students and alumni who came forward. These failures were a betrayal of our most fundamental values. The Board, in a meeting held last night, determined that there must be accountability on the part of those leaders who failed to act. The Board must also bear responsibility for a failure to exercise sufficient oversight. We are profoundly sorry for the harm caused.”

One of the actions listed in Yih’s letter is, “At the request of Head of School Blossom Beatty Pidduck, the Board has asked MTO to investigate her awareness of, and response to, sexual misconduct that occurred during her ongoing tenure as a Thacher employee.”

The board also voted to remove former Head of School Bill Wyman’s name from the hiking trail named for him.

Yih's letter continued: “The removal of the Mulligan name from the dining hall and athletic fields’ steps as outlined above is not intended to — and will not — negate the many positive aspects of the Mulligans’ individual legacies. Indeed, these will continue to exist in the positive influence each had on countless students’ lives. Their devotion and positive contributions during their time at Thacher are not forgotten. However, the high honor associated with a name on a building is fundamentally inconsistent with the gravity and serious consequences of Michael Mulligan’s failure to protect Thacher students from harm.

“The Board’s decision to no longer publicly honor them in this manner was a carefully considered one. We deliberated over the course of several meetings and acted only after a thorough review of all of the information before us. The vote on this decision at last night’s meeting was unanimous. By taking this action, we stay true to the values Thacher aspires to as a school and as a community. We teach our students to face the mistakes they make and deal with the consequences. If we do not hold ourselves, as leaders, to the same standards, we cannot expect our students to do the same. Accountability, past and future, is key if we are to move forward. We owe those who were harmed while in Thacher’s care nothing less.”

Mulligan wrote in his letter that the board “acted in a hasty and poorly thought-out manner to remove our names from the recently dedicated dining hall building on campus.

“Sadly, we and apparently many others in the community are concerned. Aware of allegations of misconduct at Thacher and questions about the present culture on campus, the Board’s focus to date seems to be more on decades-old incidents and actions. History, in our view, is critical to understanding how to move forward in the present. But in understanding the past, it is equally critical that the history be an accurate one. Unfortunately, the history being used by the Board is based on a purportedly independent investigation by an outside law firm and now produced by that firm in a Report, released by the Board almost immediately following its writing, on the Thacher public website.

“Some parts of this Report are accurate but there are numerous sections of the Report which contain errors of fact, significant omissions, and innuendo. As a consequence, The Report puts forward, in our view as individuals who have a long history with Thacher, an inaccurate narrative that both misrepresents Thacher’s past and shifts attention away from the Thacher of today and its present culture — the responsibilities for which rest with this Thacher Board and present school leadership.”

Printed below are:

—The entire July 29 letter from Board Chair Yih, on behalf of the Thacher Board of Trustees

— The entire written statement from Michael Mulligan in response to the board decision to remove his name from the campus

— Responses to the MTO report by a spokesperson for Mulligan

— The entire statement from the Oberndorf Foundation in response to the July 29 letter from Yih.

 

July 29 letter from Thacher Board of Trustees Chair Dan Yih "on behalf of the Thacher Board of Trustees," with the subject line of the email: "A Message from The Thacher School Board of Trustees":

Dear Thacher Community,

This is an important moment in Thacher’s history, one that we hope evokes both deep sorrow over the pain suffered by the most vulnerable members of our community and confidence for our future. It is only by holding ourselves accountable for the past that we can begin to heal and instill confidence that Thacher is focused on the safety and well-being of its students today and in the years to come.

The investigative report prepared by Munger, Tolles & Olsen, LLP (“MTO”), and new evidence MTO has received since the report, demonstrate that we should have done more to address reports of suspected abuse. This includes identifying predatory grooming behavior, promptly intervening when abuse was occurring, making appropriate reports to authorities, and supporting students and alumni who came forward. These failures were a betrayal of our most fundamental values. The Board, in a meeting held last night, determined that there must be accountability on the part of those leaders who failed to act. The Board must also bear responsibility for a failure to exercise sufficient oversight. We are profoundly sorry for the harm caused.  

To demonstrate our commitment to accountability, the Board and School leadership have taken a number of actions in response to the report. The list shared below includes actions already underway prior to the report’s release, steps taken in recent weeks, and those adopted by the Board last night:

  • We have made the appropriate reports to law enforcement and to any known subsequent employers of perpetrators named in the MTO report, and we will continue to comply fully with all reporting requirements.
  • We are actively cooperating with the Ventura County’s Sheriff’s Department and other authorities and will continue to do so.
  • We are banning the perpetrators of sexual misconduct identified in MTO’s report from campus.
  • Additionally, we have clarified that Head of School Blossom Beatty Pidduck has the authority to ban any other adults from campus whom she reasonably concludes pose a potential safety risk to the community at this time or in the future.
  • Where applicable, we are also stripping the perpetrators of sexual misconduct identified in MTO’s report of any public recognition at Thacher, including removing former Head of School Bill Wyman’s name from the hiking trail currently named for him. 
  • We are removing the Mulligan name from the campus dining hall and athletic field steps. The Board has taken this action due to the occasions on which former Head of School Michael Mulligan failed to appropriately demonstrate leadership and act when informed of concerns about sexual misconduct. 
  • We are establishing a standing Board Committee on Student Safety and Well-being. This committee will provide concentrated Board-level proactive attention, oversight and leadership and will work with the Administration to assure that our students are safe, including from sexual misconduct, and are in a physically and mentally healthy environment. This committee’s responsibilities will include assuring the timely execution of the Corrective Actions previously committed to by the Board, which we encourage our community to review, and the creation of an ongoing sexual misconduct prevention and response education and training program for Trustees.
  • We have additionally committed as a Board to completing training on the survivor experience as well as boundary training by October 31st.
  • We have directed MTO to continue to receive and investigate reports of sexual misconduct as well as failures to respond appropriately at least through September 30, 2021. MTO will also prepare a report that will be shared with the community as soon as it is completed. 
  • At the request of Head of School Blossom Beatty Pidduck, the Board has asked MTO to investigate her awareness of, and response to, sexual misconduct that occurred during her ongoing tenure as a Thacher employee.  
  • We have directed the Administration to create a new task force, as detailed in the Corrective Actionsto respond to allegations of sexual misconduct at Thacher and keep the Board’s Student Safety and Well-being Committee informed on a regular basis.
  • We remain committed to conducting a review, led by the Governance Committee, to assess and improve our governance. The Board will hold facilitated offsite meetings in the coming school year to advance this process.
  • We will retain an independent, highly qualified expert to undertake a comprehensive review of Thacher’s sexual misconduct education and response mechanisms, including existing policies, protocols, and trainings as well as how they function in practice.

 With regard to the investigation itself, the Board would like to reiterate that it was conducted both independently and impartially. We retained outside independent investigative counsel at MTO to ensure that outcome. While we are aware some alumni feel that the Board should have retained the power to agree or disagree with—and to publish or not publish—one or more of MTO’s findings, if the Board had reserved the right to make those subjective decisions, it would have negated the credibility and impartiality of the report in the eyes of many alumni and to the larger community. Since receiving the report and prior to making the decisions announced in this letter, the Board confirmed that the report was thoroughly investigated, well-supported, and unbiased. The Board stands in support of the report and its findings.  

The removal of the Mulligan name from the dining hall and athletic fields’ steps as outlined above is not intended to—and will not—negate the many positive aspects of the Mulligans’ individual legacies. Indeed, these will continue to exist in the positive influence each had on countless students’ lives. Their devotion and positive contributions during their time at Thacher are not forgotten. However, the high honor associated with a name on a building is fundamentally inconsistent with the gravity and serious consequences of Michael Mulligan’s failure to protect Thacher students from harm.

The Board’s decision to no longer publicly honor them in this manner was a carefully considered one. We deliberated over the course of several meetings and acted only after a thorough review of all of the information before us. The vote on this decision at last night’s meeting was unanimous. By taking this action, we stay true to the values Thacher aspires to as a school and as a community. We teach our students to face the mistakes they make and deal with the consequences. If we do not hold ourselves, as leaders, to the same standards, we cannot expect our students to do the same. Accountability, past and future, is key if we are to move forward. We owe those who were harmed while in Thacher’s care nothing less. 

In closing, we again apologize to those who were subjected to sexual misconduct while in Thacher’s care—you were badly let down, and we will carry both our deep regret and gratitude for your courage with us always. We are hopeful that the actions detailed in this letter chart a path toward truth and reconciliation and demonstrate our commitment to doing all that we can to prevent such harm from ever happening again at Thacher.

Respectfully on behalf of The Thacher School Board of Trustees,

Dan Yih, Board Chair

 

Michael Mulligan's letter of July 29:

Mulligan Statement re Board Action

“My wife Joy Sawyer-Mulligan and I are disappointed that the current Thacher Board has acted in a hasty and poorly thought-out manner to remove our names from the recently dedicated dining hall building on campus. 

 “As the board and the Thacher community know, the naming of the dining hall was in recognition of the significant progress achieved by Thacher between the 1990s and the last decade to become a world-class, values-based institution that helps remarkable young people from all walks of life become their best selves.  For both Joy and me, it has been the honor of our professional lives to help the School grow and thrive. And as this board and the community also know, we never sought to have a building named after us. We were and are humbled that the parents, students, faculty, staff, and alumni of Thacher sought to recognize us with this honor.

“With that said. It is our fervent hope that this Board does not fail in its duty to serve the best interests of the entire Thacher community.

“Sadly, we and apparently many others in the community are concerned.  Aware of allegations of misconduct at Thacher and questions about the present culture on campus, the Board’s focus to date seems to be more on decades-old incidents and actions.   History, in our view, is critical to understanding how to move forward in the present. But in understanding the past, it is equally critical that the history be an accurate one. Unfortunately, the history being used by the Board is based on a purportedly independent investigation by an outside law firm and now produced by that firm in a Report, released by the Board almost immediately following its writing, on the Thacher public website. Some parts of this Report are accurate but there are numerous sections of the Report which contain errors of fact, significant omissions, and innuendo. As a consequence, The Report puts forward, in our view as individuals who have a long history with Thacher, an inaccurate narrative that both misrepresents Thacher’s past and shifts attention away from the Thacher of today and its present culture - the responsibilities for which rest with this Thacher Board and present school leadership. 

”We have informed the Board about our concerns with the content and the rhetoric of the Report, as well as the serious problems with how the Board is presently addressing the Report. We understand that many members of the Thacher community, including alumni, former trustees, and parents -- both past and present -- are, like us, alarmed and upset.  Both Joy and I reiterate our sincere, continued, deep sadness and compassion for those who have been victimized.  Their suffering and pain must be acknowledged.

“Nonetheless, the Board’s handling of all this appears to us to be inconsistent with the core principles of Thacher: Honor, Fairness, Kindness, and Truth. I made it clear at the very start of this investigation that I wholeheartedly supported its aim as articulated originally: to determine best practices for the future by looking honestly at the past, as well as at concerns of the present. That aim has not been met.

“Erasing from the dining hall building my name as well that of my wife, Joy Sawyer-Mulligan, does not address the serious challenges Thacher’s leadership faces. Joy and I will fight to protect our reputation and good names.  For us, Honor, Fairness, Kindness, and Truth truly matter."

 

July 29 statement from a spokesperson for the Oberndorf Foundation, longtime supporters of The Thacher School:

“This is an extremely sad day for Thacher and the many members of the Thacher community who care deeply about the school and Joy and Michael Mulligan. Together, the Mulligans gave over 30 years of their lives in selfless service to the school and made it into the premier institution it became under their leadership. To remove their name from Mulligan Hall seems unimaginable.

While the Oberndorf Foundation opposes sexual abuse and harassment of any kind, we also, as a matter of social justice, believe in due process. After a careful review of recent events at Thacher, we believe Michael Mulligan has been denied this most fundamental right. Moreover, we see nothing in the Munger Tolles report to warrant the Board’s decision to remove Joy and Michael Mulligan’s name from the building dedicated in their honor.

Accordingly, and with deep regret, as a sign of support for the Mulligans, the Foundation has requested that the Oberndorf name be removed from the Thacher freshman dorm for which it provided the lead gift. The Foundation also has asked that its donation to Mulligan Hall be repurposed in a way that will teach future generations of Thacher students the importance of living the school’s values of honor, fairness, kindness and truth. Both of Mr. and Mrs. Oberndorf’s children attended Thacher. In addition, Mr. Oberndorf served as a trustee from 2003-2012 and chaired the school’s capital campaign during that time period."

 

A four-page document, dated July 29, from a spokesperson for Mulligan, titled "Fact Sheet: Select Inaccuracies within the Munger, Tolles & Olson Report Prepared for The Thacher School Board of Trustees"

• The Munger, Tolles & Olson Report (“MTO Report”) was selectively investigated. It is laced with inaccuracies and innuendo, designed to advance an agenda rather than search for the truth. It was released for maximum political and legal impact.

• As Mr. Mulligan told the MTO attorneys repeatedly, information now available about allegations of abuse was unknown at the time.

o Throughout his tenure, Mr. Mulligan investigated and took seriously allegations of misconduct. He offered his support to the students.

o He terminated the transgressors.

o And he notified the police and other appropriate authorities when serious and credible allegations were made. 

o Mr. Mulligan was transparent with the Thacher Board and its counsel about the decisions he made and kept them fully informed.

o The MTO Report, with its numerous misstatements, errors, and omissions does not accurately portray Mr. Mulligan’s extensive and diligent efforts to prevent, investigate, and punish abuse, and support the victims.

• The decision by this Board to rely solely upon this profoundly flawed and admittedly incomplete report in deciding to remove the Mulligans’ names from the dining hall invalidates a process so poorly conceived and executed that it had no hope of either uncovering the truth or providing useful guidance for the future. 

• It also violates a fundamental core value of Thacher – fairness.

 

Here are some of the most significant errors in the MTO Report as they relate to Mr. Mulligan.

Regan

• Through material omissions and misleading statements, the MTO Report depicts in a false light Mr. Mulligan’s role in the matters covered. 

• Specifically, Mr. Mulligan informed MTO how, in the fall of 1988, he obtained Regan’s confession that Regan was in an inappropriate relationship with Student A. Regan was fired immediately thereafter.

• At this time, Mr. Mulligan was the Assistant Headmaster for Student Affairs.

• As Mulligan told MTO, a student told him that he had seen a girl enter Regan’s apartment after check-in. The next day, Mr. Mulligan confronted Regan and questioned him for two hours, at which time Regan admitted he and Student A were involved in an inappropriate relationship.

• Mr. Mulligan immediately reported Regan’s confession to then-Head of School Bill Wyman and Assistant Headmaster for Academic Affairs Peter Robinson, and Regan was immediately fired.

• That MTO excluded Mr. Mulligan’s account from the Report’s 8-page, single-spaced Regan section is inexcusable.

• Indeed, the Report states that Regan was reported to law enforcement. 

• The MTO Report contains other false and/or misleading statements about the Regan matter. 

 

o Its depiction of the extent of the Mulligans’ assistance on October 5, 1988, when they opened their home to Student A for her safety, was that she was “put in a room with some poetry to read” (Rpt. 11). This is grossly incomplete and falsely depicts the Mulligans as insensitive to Student A or her situation.

o The claim that, in mid-2010, Mulligan provided Regan a “personal tour of campus” is also false. (Rpt. 13.) 

 

o A former Thacher student invited Regan (the student’s advisor from the 1980s) to campus to attend his belated, private diploma ceremony at the outdoor chapel. Regan’s attendance at this event was with the School’s permission because at that time, based on Student A’s reports to the School and the sheriff’s department, Mr. Mulligan’s understanding of her account was not one of trauma, but rather, what she characterized as “a romantic love affair” and “voluntary and consensual.” Student A was no longer at Thacher and no other student would be endangered by this brief visit to accommodate the request of the former student receiving his diploma.

 

The 1995 Incident

 • As for the 1995 incident in Student A’s dormitory room, the MTO Report acknowledges that Mr. Mulligan “approved and imposed” the Faculty Committee’s “recommended expulsion for both of the boys” and “reported the incident to law enforcement agencies,” specifically, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and the Ventura County Child Protective Services, although Student A’s family “discouraged her from going to the police.” (Rpt. 62, 66.)

• The Report acknowledges MTO did not investigate “whether student-on-student sexual  misconduct occurred” during the 1995 incident. 

• Instead, the Report claims MTO investigated the “School’s response” to this student-on-student incident.

• However, MTO fails to explain how it could adequately investigate the School’s response while ignoring whether the sexual misconduct actually occurred.
• And for a Report purportedly investigating the “School’s response,” MTO focused the Report’s discussion of the 1995 incident on Student A’s uninvestigated allegations, rather than on the School’s undisputed response: Mr. Mulligan expelled the two boys and reported the incident to the police and child services (due to the boys’ uninvited entry into the girls’ room).

• MTO admits it obtained no information from Student B or the two boys involved in the incident: Student B “did not speak with” MTO, and MTO “did not seek to speak with the two boys.” 
o In presenting what happened that night, the Report is based solely on Student A’s allegations.
o MTO’s failure to speak with three of the four students directly involved in the 1995 incident—Student B and the two boys— is particularly baffling when the Report states MTO spoke with “a number of other students” about events in 1995. 

• The MTO Report also states Student A “did not tell anyone” at the School “the truth of what happened” that night (Rpt. 61), with one alleged exception: a purported meeting Student A claims she and Student B had with Mr. Mulligan when they allegedly told him they had been raped. But Mr. Mulligan was clear in his interviews with MTO: “Students A and B never told him they were raped.” (Rpt. 60.)

• The Report’s “cover up” theory hinges on what was said at this alleged meeting that never happened.

o MTO did not obtain Student B’s account of whether this meeting occurred, and  if it did, what was said. 

o Student A told MTO that she and Student B went to Mulligan to “get ahead of whatever narrative would be circulating.” (Rpt. 59). 

o But rumors had already been spreading, and Mulligan had heard about the boys visiting Students A anbd B in their room before Mulligan first spoke with Students A and B. Mulligan heard about this because another student—who accompanied the boys to the room but did not enter—reported the incident to his advisor after she asked him about the circulating rumors.

o As Mr. Mulligan told MTO, Students A and B never told Mr. Mulligan, they were raped  or that the encounter with the boys was not consensual.  To Mr. Mulligan’s knowledge, no other adult was told the encounter was not consensual nor was it ever reported to him by anyone.

o Mr. Mulligan shared the same with MTO, and based on that account, the two boys could likely have relevant knowledge about what they and Students A and B decided in 1995 to tell School officials. 

o The Report acknowledges that both Students A and B had been “romantically involved with” at least one of the boys before  the incident. (Rpt. 58.)

o But as noted in the Report, MTO decided “not to seek to speak with the two boys.”

o Student A also now belatedly alleges that the boys were drunk the night of the incident. 

o But Students A and B denied in 1995 that the boys had been drinking or were intoxicated. Student A’s explanation to MTO for withholding this information in 1995 is hard to understand: apparently, she wanted to protect the boys from the consequences of underage drinking -- but not the consequences of rape?

o Student A also never informed Mr. Mulligan that she and Student B had told the boys to leave their room. 

o During the School’s 1995 inquiry, Students A and B defended the boys’ conduct and never said anything suggesting they needed to leave their room or that what happened there was nonconsensual.

o The Report’s “cover up” theory is irreconcilable with several undisputed facts, such as 

     — Mr. Mulligan’s reporting the incident to the police and child services,

     — Student A’s mother and father remaining silent about the purported rape while sending her back to Thacher,

     — The School’s requiring psychological evaluation and counselor assessments.

• It is hard to understand why the MTO Report falsely contends Child Protection Services “has been unable to find any records related to this incident” while simultaneously admitting MTO “located” documentation of Mr. Mulligan’s reporting “from Ventura County Child Protective Services, dated November 15, which include Mulligan’s name—one for Student A and one for Student B” stating Child Protective Services “assessed the referral” and “a formal record of the allegation has been made.” (Rpt. 62.) 

Friborg

• Despite the repeated claims that a purpose of the MTO Report was to analyze Thacher’s response to allegations of improper conduct and abuse (Rpt. 1), the MTO Report fundamentally misstates the most critical details regarding Mr. Mulligan’s handling of Friborg’s case: 

• Mr. Mulligan personally and promptly fired Friborg, demanded he leave campus, and reported him to the Ojai police. 

• When asked by prospective employers about the reasons for Friborg’s departure, Mr. Mulligan did not recommend Friborg and answered candidly about firing Friborg for sexual impropriety. (Rpt. 26).

• Contrary to the MTO Report, Friborg was not allowed to wait weeks and submit his own resignation, all the while continuing to live on campus.

• Mr. Mulligan was never told that Friborg was “stalking” Student G.

o Mr. Mulligan disputes Student G’s claims that in the June 1997 meeting among Mr. Mulligan, and Students E, G, and H, Student G confronted Mr. Mulligan about not taking action against Friborg in response  to her alleged earlier accusations.

o In her own interview with MTO, Student E stated she “does not remember Student G referring to a prior meeting with Mulligan.” (Rpt. 24).

• The undisputed record is clear.

o Three students made allegations of boundary violations and inappropriate conduct by Friborg to Mr. Mulligan on June 12, 1997. 

o Mr. Mulligan confronted Friborg the same day and Friborg admitted the allegations were true.

o In the same conversation, Mr. Mulligan terminated Mr. Friborg, telling him “You’re done,” and giving him no more than 48 hours to vacate his home on campus.

o Mr. Mulligan then informed the Thacher Board president, Randy Labbe, and the school’s general counsel, Randy George, of Friborg’s termination and the reason why.

o Mr. Mulligan also personally reported the allegations against Friborg to the Ojai Police.

o By no later than June 14, 1997, Friborg had vacated his home on campus and was living in a private residence co-owned with then Director of Development Terry Twitchell in Ojai, California. 

o Friborg was not allowed to socialize or eat meals on campus.

o Friborg returned to campus briefly to clean out his office, pickup his mail, and to give the final college report to the School’s board, at the invitation of Board President Randy Labbe. 

     — During this time, students were not on campus because Thacher was on summer break

• Finally, the MTO Report criticizes Thacher’s decision not to publicize the reasons for Friborg’s firing while failing to mention that it was Thacher’s legal counsel who directed the school’s leadership, including Mr. Mulligan, not to comment publicly on the reasons for any employee’s departure. This was consistent advice, repeated over the course of many years.

• As for the 1995 incident in Student A’s dormitory room, the MTO Report acknowledges that Mr. Mulligan “approved and imposed” the Faculty Committee’s “recommended expulsion for both of the boys” and “reported the incident to law enforcement agencies,” specifically, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and the Ventura County Child Protective Services, although Student A’s family “discouraged her from going to the police.” (Rpt. 62, 66.)

• The Report acknowledges MTO did not investigate “whether student-on-student sexual  misconduct occurred” during the 1995 incident. 

• Instead, the Report claims MTO investigated the “School’s response” to this student-on-student incident.

• However, MTO fails to explain how it could adequately investigate the School’s response while ignoring whether the sexual misconduct actually occurred.

• And for a Report purportedly investigating the “School’s response,” MTO focused the Report’s discussion of the 1995 incident on Student A’s uninvestigated allegations, rather than on the School’s undisputed response: Mr. Mulligan expelled the two boys and reported the incident to the police and child services (due to the boys’ uninvited entry into the girls’ room).

• MTO admits it obtained no information from Student B or the two boys involved in the incident: Student B “did not speak with” MTO, and MTO “did not seek to speak with the two boys.” 

o In presenting what happened that night, the Report is based solely on Student A’s allegations.

o MTO’s failure to speak with three of the four students directly involved in the 1995 incident—Student B and the two boys— is particularly baffling when the Report states MTO spoke with “a number of other students” about events in 1995. 

• The MTO Report also states Student A “did not tell anyone” at the School “the truth of what happened” that night (Rpt. 61), with one alleged exception: a purported meeting Student A claims she and Student B had with Mr. Mulligan when they allegedly told him they had been raped. But Mr. Mulligan was clear in his interviews with MTO: “Students A and B never told him they were raped.” (Rpt. 60.)

• The Report’s “cover up” theory hinges on what was said at this alleged meeting that never happened.

o MTO did not obtain Student B’s account of whether this meeting occurred, and  if it did, what was said. 

o Student A told MTO that she and Student B went to Mulligan to “get ahead of whatever narrative would be circulating.” (Rpt. 59). 

o But rumors had already been spreading, and Mulligan had heard about the boys visiting Students A anbd B in their room before Mulligan first spoke with Students A and B. Mulligan heard about this because another student—who accompanied the boys to the room but did not enter—reported the incident to his advisor after she asked him about the circulating rumors.

o As Mr. Mulligan told MTO, Students A and B never told Mr. Mulligan, they were raped  or that the encounter with the boys was not consensual.  To Mr. Mulligan’s knowledge, no other adult was told the encounter was not consensual nor was it ever reported to him by anyone.

o Mr. Mulligan shared the same with MTO, and based on that account, the two boys could likely have relevant knowledge about what they and Students A and B decided in 1995 to tell School officials. 

o The Report acknowledges that both Students A and B had been “romantically involved with” at least one of the boys before  the incident. (Rpt. 58.)

o But as noted in the Report, MTO decided “not to seek to speak with the two boys.”

o Student A also now belatedly alleges that the boys were drunk the night of the incident. 

o But Students A and B denied in 1995 that the boys had been drinking or were intoxicated. Student A’s explanation to MTO for withholding this information in 1995 is hard to understand: apparently, she wanted to protect the boys from the consequences of underage drinking -- but not the consequences of rape?

o Student A also never informed Mr. Mulligan that she and Student B had told the boys to leave their room. 

o During the School’s 1995 inquiry, Students A and B defended the boys’ conduct and never said anything suggesting they needed to leave their room or that what happened there was nonconsensual.

o The Report’s “cover up” theory is irreconcilable with several undisputed facts, such as 

• Mr. Mulligan’s reporting the incident to the police and child services,

• Student A’s mother and father remaining silent about the purported rape while sending her back to Thacher,

• The School’s requiring psychological evaluation and counselor assessments.

• It is hard to understand why the MTO Report falsely contends Child Protection Services “has been unable to find any records related to this incident” while simultaneously admitting MTO “located” documentation of Mr. Mulligan’s reporting “from Ventura County Child Protective Services, dated November 15, which include Mulligan’s name—one for Student A and one for Student B” stating Child Protective Services “assessed the referral” and “a formal record of the allegation has been made.” (Rpt. 62.) 

Friborg

• Despite the repeated claims that a purpose of the MTO Report was to analyze Thacher’s response to allegations of improper conduct and abuse (Rpt. 1), the MTO Report fundamentally misstates the most critical details regarding Mr. Mulligan’s handling of Friborg’s case: 

• Mr. Mulligan personally and promptly fired Friborg, demanded he leave campus, and reported him to the Ojai police. 

• When asked by prospective employers about the reasons for Friborg’s departure, Mr. Mulligan did not recommend Friborg and answered candidly about firing Friborg for sexual impropriety. (Rpt. 26).

• Contrary to the MTO Report, Friborg was not allowed to wait weeks and submit his own resignation, all the while continuing to live on campus.

Mr. Mulligan was never told that Friborg was “stalking” Student G.
o Mr. Mulligan disputes Student G’s claims that in the June 1997 meeting among Mr. Mulligan, and Students E, G, and H, Student G confronted Mr. Mulligan about not taking action against Friborg in response  to her alleged earlier accusations.

o In her own interview with MTO, Student E stated she “does not remember Student G referring to a prior meeting with Mulligan.” (Rpt. 24).

• The undisputed record is clear.

o Three students made allegations of boundary violations and inappropriate conduct by Friborg to Mr. Mulligan on June 12, 1997. 

o Mr. Mulligan confronted Friborg the same day and Friborg admitted the allegations were true.

o In the same conversation, Mr. Mulligan terminated Mr. Friborg, telling him “You’re done,” and giving him no more than 48 hours to vacate his home on campus.

o Mr. Mulligan then informed the Thacher Board president, Randy Labbe, and the school’s general counsel, Randy George, of Friborg’s termination and the reason why.

o Mr. Mulligan also personally reported the allegations against Friborg to the Ojai Police.

o By no later than June 14, 1997, Friborg had vacated his home on campus and was living in a private residence co-owned with then Director of Development Terry Twitchell in Ojai, California. 

o Friborg was not allowed to socialize or eat meals on campus.

o Friborg returned to campus briefly to clean out his office, pickup his mail, and to give the final college report to the School’s board, at the invitation of Board President Randy Labbe. 

• During this time, students were not on campus because Thacher was on summer break

• Finally, the MTO Report criticizes Thacher’s decision not to publicize the reasons for Friborg’s firing while failing to mention that it was Thacher’s legal counsel who directed the school’s leadership, including Mr. Mulligan, not to comment publicly on the reasons for any employee’s departure. This was consistent advice, repeated over the course of many years.

 

 

 

 

 

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