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Prestigious Prep School Somehow Blames A Student For Teacher's Sexual Abuse

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An exclusive all-girls prep school claims that a woman who is suing them over the sexual abuse by a former teacher is responsible for her own trauma because she failed to speak up sooner. Using the same logic, the Marlborough School also says that because she didn't come forward earlier, she "exposed" other students to potential sexual abuse by Joseph Koetters, according to court documents filed this month.Buzzfeed reports that the woman, who is now in her early thirties, says Koetters first initiated the sexual relationship when she was in his 11th grade English class. It lasted a year, and she eventually she became pregnant with his child and had a miscarriage.

As the L.A. Times reported in October, the woman told the court:

"I found out I was pregnant in a dirty Carl's Jr. bathroom. I next remember sitting at the base of the staircase in Mr. Koetters' house, in shock and shaking violently," she said. "His reaction broke me. In his view, it was a foregone conclusion that I'd get an abortion." The woman, identified in court only as Jane Doe, said she miscarried "alone, terrified and in excruciating pain."

She said she was shattered and suffered from severe bulimia for seven years. She said she tried to kill herself while in college.

According to the L.A. Times, filings from the Hancock Park private school, which costs $30,000 a year to attend, allege that the woman's "negligence and carelessness contributed to and proximately caused the injuries and damages alleged." The document also states that in 2009 the victim told a psychiatrist about the pregnancy and abuse that caused "psychological injury," but chose not to report the incident to police or the school. "Thus, Plaintiff consciously exposed other girls to the risk of abuse at Koetters' hands," said the filing.
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The woman, who filed charges against Koetters in February 2015, said that while the abuse occurred in 2000, she remained silent until she read an essay on XO Jane. It was written by another one of Koetters former students, Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie, and it described his inappropriate advances. The school launched an investigation following a piece by Buzzfeed that detailed the allegations and truly gross accounts of sexual misconduct, and identified Koetters as the teacher. As the investigation unfolded, more cases of abuse came out; in May 2015, another student came forward and said that Koetters sexually abused her in 2004.

Michael Swartz, the Marlborough School's attorney denied that the school was attempting to "victim blame"—which the state of California legally outlawed last year.

"I have two teenage daughters who attend Marlborough School, and as a father there is no chance that I would ever say that a teenager was contributorily negligent for being seduced by a teacher," Swartz told the Times in a statement.

According to another report by the Times, in 2014 the school admitted that it had received a complaint about Koetters' conduct in 2005, but didn't take it seriously.

"Now they have the audacity to actually blame the victim for...the school's shortcomings," the woman's lawyer David Ring said.

In October, Koetters pled guilty to molesting two of his former students, two counts of oral copulation of a person under 18 and two counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object. He reached a plea deal, and was sentenced to one year in jail.