Seven Detroit women came forward on Wednesday with accusations that a school teacher sexually abused them when they were his students in two Oakland County districts. The seven women attended a press conference with their attorneys where they expressed their plans of suing the teacher. The alleged teacher has been placed on leave since the last week of August after one of the former students was the first one to publicly accuse him on social media.
Attorneys say the teacher has taught music and theater arts, most recently at North Farmington High School and possible Power Middle School. The teacher is reportedly a repeated sex offender and there have been several complaints against him from other former and present students also.
Teacher or Predator?
The women, along with an eighth former student who did not attend the news conference, were between 13 and 16 years old during the alleged incidents. All the women present at the news conference said that they lodged several complaints with administrators at Clarenceville High School, Clarenceville Middle School and Troy Athens High School between 2005 and 2018, but no action was taken against the teacher.
The alleged harassment in the district reportedly spanned from 2009 to 2018. The youngest victim was 13 years old at the time of the misconduct, attorneys say. Most of these women said they were in middle and high school choir and theater programs in the Clarenceville School District when the incidents took place, while another victim said she was sexually assaulted by the teacher in 2005 when she was a 16-year-old and was at Troy Athens.
In the earliest reported incident in 2005, the alleged victim Esser-Weidenfeller said that another teacher and a secretary at Troy Athens High School were notified that the teacher was having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student. However, higher authorities of the school were not contacted and she was asked to keep quiet.
Kerry Birmingham, a Troy schools spokeswoman, said the district was not aware of any allegations about the teacher, who she says has never worked at any of the district's schools.
The school has also denied of any students making an official complaint about any teacher. "We have immense sympathy for any victim of sexual assault, but ... the individual in question never worked for the Troy School District as a teacher or in any capacity, nor do we have any record of any student coming forward with allegations or concerns to any school official or to the District," she said in a statement.
Fighting for Justice
Emmalee Forrester, one of the seven who accused the teacher, is a high school teacher in the Farmington school district. She was the first to made things public. "We need justice. We will no longer let anyone silence us we are so strong now," she said.
In a Facebook post last month, Forrester came forward, accusing the man of grooming her throughout her time in Clarenceville High School in Livonia starting when she was a freshman in 2014. The teacher's name is not being made public as he hasn't been arrested or charged.
Forrester said at the time, she and a friend notified the principal at Clarenceville High school about the teacher's behavior, but no one took her seriously. "I wasn't wrong," she said. "I just had a school district that failed me, now that I've come to learn, has failed many of us."
However, following her post on Facebook, the teacher has been put on paid administrative leave on August 26. A civil lawsuit will be filed soon by the former students. Police have also launched an investigation but no charges have been filed yet. The seven women along with their attorneys are encouraging more such victims of the teacher to come forward and share their stories.