Felicia asked to use this blog to thank her supporters and we are very happy to accommodate:
I want to begin by thanking, with all my heart, the alumni, current students, and the current/former teachers who have stood by me since I went public. I have received countless messages of support from people all over the world. Due to the circumstances, I've had to shut my Facebook down for a while, but your kind words have been passed along to me by friends. I read your messages over and over when the going gets tough and I find the strength to carry on this battle- if not for myself, for other victims who have been afraid to speak up.
It took me a while to come to the decision to reveal my identity. I was afraid of a backlash like the one I endured when I was a freshman. What finally galvanized me into going public was a message from a current teacher. This teacher witnessed certain administrators bragging about having Jane Doe “over a barrel.” To have someone over a barrel is to have that person at your mercy- it is a degrading, disrespectful expression, and is particularly arrogant when being used to describe a young woman who was sexually harassed as a child at your school. These administrators were capitalizing on what they perceived was my weakness- my hesitancy to use my name- by threatening to publicize me. I can only speculate that their intent in threatening to disclose my identity was intimidation, as there was no legal benefit to doing so. In retrospect, I appreciate their actions, because going public has been rewarding and cathartic. I feel as though I have been liberated of a dark burden; I am not ashamed anymore.
What has been in the media regarding my case is only a fraction of my entire story, as there is a limit on what can be run by newspapers and television. I hope to elucidate some details for you in this letter. For what it’s worth, everything I have stated is 100% true. I will swear on a stack of bibles and everyone I love that every piece of information I have shared regarding my case is factual; I will go to my grave knowing I have spoken the God’s honest truth.
When I was a freshman at St. Francis Prep, I was sexually harassed by Brother Ben, as were several of my peers. It never should've happened. The final straw came when I was alone with Ben in his classroom. He took my hands in his, looked into my eyes and said, “You know, Felicia, my goal in life is to give you pleasure.” When I reported Ben, I also reported another teacher who was engaging in highly disturbing activities with my classmate. It was my classmate’s victimization that prompted me to report it all at once. I knew something had to be done. I was told by the administrator I reported Ben to that my word wasn't sufficient, and so I returned to his office with many other girls who had been harassed. Imagine my terror when I found out that in spite of numerous first-hand accounts of Ben’s inappropriate behavior, not only was nothing being done, but my anonymity had been tossed aside. Ben was told I had reported him and he made a show of it.
At the time I reported him, I was informed that Ben didn't deny what he did. He explained that his flirtation with girls was his way of "connecting" with them. If it hadn’t been for my parents pleading with a certain administrator to discipline Ben, nothing would've changed. Prior to their meeting in person, this administrator hung up on my distraught father, and my mother, who was in the first trimester of a high-risk pregnancy, had to call back and beg this administrator to think of his own child being harassed. My parents came to the school, where they had a meeting with several administrators. One of these administrators admitted to my parents that Ben had been reprimanded before for asking girls to do splits in their skirts for extra credit. It has been brought to my attention that there is a RateMyTeacher post, still on the website, regarding those incidents dating back to 2004. When Ben was finally evaluated by a professional, he was rightfully found unfit to work with children. This was reported to my parents.
Following his evaluation, Ben was removed from the classroom. He was, however, given the choice to change residences or remain living at St. Francis Prep. He chose the latter. Soon after he was removed from teaching, Ben made a trip to his former classroom, where he told several of my peers that I was a crazy lunatic with a vendetta against men. Some students in the school, who did not know any better at the time, bullied me because Ben had been terminated. It escalated to the point of death threats, and I spent a lot of time in the school chapel, praying for a respite. In time, the bullying abated, but until the day I graduated, I never shook the notoriety that followed me throughout my four years at St. Francis Prep.
I hope that by breaking down these events, I have clarified some things for those of you with questions. I have been asked a lot about a possible protest during Open House. I do not know who is organizing this. If any of you plan to attend, I ask that you please protest peacefully. Please convey the message without violence or objectionable behavior. It is admirable to stand united for a just cause, as long as it is done the right way.
I will keep you updated on new developments as they occur.
Again, thank you for standing by me. It means more to me than I can adequately express in a letter. Every part of my story is true, and I am most grateful that you believe me.
The protest is at noon across the street from St. Francis Prep this Saturday, Oct. 19th, during their Open House. There will be a rally party immediately after so that the community can continue to discuss important issues. Contact Time4ChangeSFP@gmail.com for more details.