Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 19
DA charges two St. Joseph educators with failing to report suspected child sexual abuse to authorities
BY AMY ASMAN
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced on July 12 that misdemeanor charges have been filed against former St. Joseph High School principal Joseph Myers and dean of students John Walker for allegedly failing to immediately report suspected child sexual abuse to law enforcement agents.
According to a press release from Dudley’s office, “It is alleged that [Myers and Walker] were notified by 16-year-old student Jane Doe 1 and her parents of a sexual assault committed against her by two other students, also minors.”
The release goes on to state that Myers and Dean are both mandated reporters because of their positions at the high school and are required under law to immediately report suspected child abuse, child sexual abuse, or child neglect to the appropriate authorities.
In the release, Dudley said the filing concludes a month-long investigation conducted by Sheriff’s detectives and investigators with the District Attorney’s Office. Charges have already been filed against the suspects involved in the alleged sexual assaults, and those cases are making their way through the criminal justice system.
The maximum penalty for mandated reporters who fail to report suspected child abuse is six months in county jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
When the Sun called St. Joseph High School seeking comment, Joanne Poloni, the school’s former vice principal—currently serving as interim principal—said she was unable to comment on the investigation and referred a reporter to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which oversees Catholic schools on the Central Coast.
In a prepared statement sent out on July 13, Tod Tamberg, the Archdiocese’s director of media relations, said, “The Archdiocese of Los Angeles became aware today of the charges against St. Joseph High School principal Joseph Myers and former dean of students, John Walker. Archdiocesan policy requires full adherence to California State mandated reporting laws in all schools within the Archdiocese. Mr. Myers has been placed on administrative leave pending the resolution of this matter.”
The Archdiocese also sent a letter home to parents informing them of the charges against Myers and Walker.
“Providing a Safe [sic] learning environment and a quality Catholic education for our students is of the utmost priority at all Catholic schools,” the letter says.