Former student sues $68,000-a-year California boarding school Thacher
The woman claims that former school principal William “Bill” Wyman stalked and groped her in the 1980s. He died in 2014
A former student of the elite California boarding school Thacher has accused the school of openly harassing her by the headmaster and then expelling her when she reported it.
The woman, whose name has not been made public due to the nature of her claim, attended $68,000-a-year school in Ojai in 1982.
Now 53, she claims that the then principal, William Bill Wyman, fondled her breasts and gave her “special attention” when she was just 13.
She said he often followed her from her dorm room to the stables where she groomed her horse, inappropriately “stroked” her and made sexual comments.
During a virtual press conference on Wednesday, she described how Wyman “stalked” her from her dorm room to the stables, and how other staff intervened when he “got too close in public.”
Wyman died of lung cancer in 2014, so cannot be prosecuted or questioned about the claims.
But the woman claims that Thacher failed to protect her and other students by allowing the alleged abuse.
She also alleges that she was sexually assaulted by a female nurse who inserted a thermometer into her anus every hour during an overnight visit to the infirmary.
Her complaint comes after a damning 91-page report that revealed decades of private school sexual abuse last year.
I was 13 when I arrived in Thacher in the fall of 1982. I was an outgoing girl with good grades looking forward to a life full of horses, making new friends and escaping an unhappy home environment, which I now see is a target of abuse
The report shows that employees and some students have been guilty of sexually abusing female students. It also described how the abuse was covered up by school administrators.
The new complaint is the first lawsuit filed against Thacher.
The woman, who goes by Jane Doe, spoke anonymously at the press conference on Wednesday.
‘I was 13 when I arrived in Thacher in the autumn of 1982.
“I was an outgoing girl with good grades looking forward to a life full of horses, making new friends and escaping an unhappy home environment, which I now see being the target of abuse.
‘I soon got the special attention of the principal of the school. He put his arms around me, hugged me and called me his “special girl.”
The $68,000-a-year Thacher School in Ojai, California. A damning report from last year revealed decades of sexual abuse by staff that had been covered up
The former student has hired prolific attorney Gloria Allred to represent her against the school. Allred told DailyMail.com that she invites any other former Thacher student to contact her office if they believe they too have been victims of sexual abuse.
Sherman Day Thacher, the founder of the school. According to a previous complaint, one of his direct descendants strangled a girl at school, but that was covered up
This escalated with more touching and groping of my breasts and body.
“He had a pattern of stalking me as I walked from my dorm to the horse stables.
“When I complained to the faculty, I was told that he was kind or grandfather and that I shouldn’t have to worry about it,” she said.
In the indictment, she describes Wyman pressing his “erect penis” against her after approaching her on his way to the school shed.
Jane Doe claims she was subsequently harassed by a nurse while being held in the infirmary “against her will” one night.
After her sophomore year in 1983, she was told she couldn’t go to school anymore, she says.
She has hired prolific attorney Gloria Allred to represent her against the school.
Allred told DailyMail.com that she invites any other former Thacher student to contact her office if they believe they too have been victims of sexual abuse.
The school’s principal Blossom Pidduck resigned last year as a result of the damning report.
She said at the time that she too was a survivor of sexual violence and that the report had surfaced “achievements” for her.
Pidduck herself went to school as a girl. Her husband teaches in the environmental sciences department. Thacher has not yet commented on the allegations in the lawsuit.
Among the notable alumni are English actress Joely Richardson and actor Jonathan Tucker.