A few weeks ago, police arrested Glendale, Arizona, public school teacher John Todorich for luring a minor over the Internet for sex.
But the arrest should not have been a surprise. In 2010, three adult witnesses reported that they saw the elementary school teacher openly fondle a boy's genitals during a gym class. The police got wind of the incident, but they declined to file charges. But now that Todorich has been arrested on the Internet crime, they have now charged him for the 2010 molestation.
But what did the district do back in 2010 after it learned that adults saw Todorich fondle a boy? It shipped him off to another school. Administrators notified the leaders at the new school, but they never bothered to notify the school's parents.
Sound familiar? It's exactly what Church officials were accused of doing decades ago and exactly what has been the source of a never-ending media frenzy.
A shocking case in New Jersey
And just last week, police arrested three teachers and two administrators at a single high school in Camden County, New Jersey, after law enforcement discovered that the male teachers had sex with students and that administrators covered it up. At a news conference following the arrests, the local prosecutor declared:
"It was obvious there was a culture at [the school] where teachers thought they could get away with improper relationships with their students and administrators turned a blind eye to these relationships' existence."
Meanwhile, the school did not seem very responsive to parents who were concerned about their children. As one paper reported:
"[M]any parents said that they'd heard rumors but nothing else, and that when they confronted the administration they heard nothing.
"'I called the school on Monday,' said a [parent] who asked that her name not be published. 'I have four girls there, and I wanted to know if they were safe. They just said, 'No comment.'"
Sound familiar? Again, this echoes what Church officials were accused of doing decades ago.
Scandals and more scandals
Need more? Here is a sampling of public school sex abuse cases from just in the last few weeks, almost all of which received scant media attention.
- South Carolina law enforcement arrested a high school teacher on "11 counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor and 13 counts of lewd act on a minor";
- A judge sentenced a former high school teacher in Michigan to four to 20 years in prison for having sex with teenage male students after he pleaded guilty to "multiple criminal charges of third-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC), fourth-degree CSC, child sexually abusive activity, using a computer to commit a crime and distributing sexually explicit material to children" (The teacher has HIV, by the way, and the students didn't know this);
- Police arrested a Pennsylvania school teacher for failing to report the rape of a 15-year-old girl;
- A California judge unsealed documents showing that an elementary school teacher knew shocking details of molestation by a teacher but did not call the police. (Prosecutors say the teacher molested five girls between the ages of 7 and 9-years-old.);
- Police charged a former teacher and coach in Illinois with 10 counts of criminal sexual abuse for having sex with one of her former players;
- A judge sentenced a former third-grade teacher with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to 25 years in prison and ordered him to register as a sex offender for life for molesting 13 former students;
- A judge sentenced an Orange County, California, teacher to four years in prison after he pleaded guilty to "two felony counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, four felony counts of oral copulation of a minor, and two felony counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object of a minor";
- A teacher in New York State resigned after law enforcement charged him with "eight counts of first-degree disseminating indecent material to minors, one count of promoting sexual performance of a child, third-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child";
- A student in Chicago who was abused by her high school music teacher is suing her district after the teacher pleaded guilty to sexually abusing her and another student;
- Police arrested a North Carolina elementary school teacher on "charges of second-degree forcible sex offense and first-degree kidnapping";
- Washington state police arrested a high school teacher after "a now-17-year-old girl told her mother she had been having sex with a teacher for the past two years";
- A Florida teacher appeared in court after police arrested him on "multiple sexual battery charges on victims less than 12 years of age";
- California police arrested a high school teacher for "an 'unlawful intimate relationship' with a 17-year-old female student";
- A Virginia student teacher faces two counts of aggravated sexual assault and four counts of child-porn possession; and
- A 9th grade English teacher in Arkansas turned herself in to police amidst charges that she had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student.
Not the Catholic Church
The rampant abuse of innocent kids happening today in public schools amplifies a number of points:
1. These offending public school teachers have obviously not taken vows of celibacy, so the abuse in the Catholic Church years ago had nothing to do with priestly celibacy requirements. The media should finally retire its tired argument that celibacy somehow causes sex abuse.
2. As we have repeatedly stated before, accusations against Catholic priests committing abuse today are very rare. When we read an accusation of abuse against a Catholic priest, it almost always entails an allegation from decades ago.
3. The Catholic Church has implemented protective measures that are unprecedented elsewhere – annual audits, intensified screenings, abuse awareness trainings, diocesan review boards, and more – making the Catholic Church likely the safest environment for children today. But one would never know this from the media coverage.