Well folks, you know the drill by now. I’m headed to the courthouse for the twelfth day of testimony in a family’s civil lawsuit against the Episcopal School of Dallas. The plaintiffs are still presenting their case and notable fact witnesses yet to be called include the victim’s mother, Jane Doe, the school’s former CFO Chris Burrow, head of the upper school Erin Mayo, and the woman being identified only as “Former Student.” I’ll keep you updated as today’s testimony unfolds.
UPDATE 11 a.m.
Tolly Salz, a current teacher at ESD, is on the stand. It’s been an emotional and combative experience, with the judge warning Salz she could be cited for refusing to answer another question.
We’re in a brief recess now so I’ll save the rest of the updates for lunch.
Update 12:20 p.m.
If you tried to load our website in the past 30 minutes or so, the server was down. But we got it back up in time for your lunch recess updates. It’s been a rough morning in the county courtroom of Judge D’Metria Benson. Here’s the play-by-play.
Tolly Salz, an English teacher at ESD, takes the stand with Charla Aldous leading the questioning for the plaintiffs. She asks Salz if she’s ever bullied a child or gossiped about a child. Salz says no.
Aldous asks Salz if she attended either of the two staff trainings on appropriate boundaries between students and teachers at ESD. Salz says she did not.
Salz/Aldous interaction is growing increasingly combative. Aldous reads from Salz’s deposition.
“Do you believe it’s sexual abuse when a teacher has sex with a child that is his student and is 16 years old?” Aldous asked in the deposition.
“I do not know,” Salz responded.
Salz says she first heard of Nathan Campbell’s relationship with Jane Doe II in December 2009.
Aldous asks Salz if she was concerned when she learned about the relationship.
“It concerned me that anything could have happened with any student at ESD,” she says.
Aldous probes further, asking Salz more about her feelings regarding sexual abuse of a child at ESD by a teacher.
“What the hell? Excuse me,” Salz says. “Horror, ma’am. Horror … The horror that I felt was that something had happened — something had happened and no one had known.”
Salz, raising her voice, says “If grooming is happening outside of the school … how am I supposed to see it? How is he [her husband Marc Salz, who is also an ESD teacher] supposed to see it?”
Aldous asks Salz if she ever commented to another teacher that Jane Doe II was “a difficult student.”
“I don’t recall ever saying that,” Salz says.
“You thought Jane Doe II was openly flirtatious with several teachers?” Aldous asks.
“Yes,” Salz responds.
“Did you ever tell anyone about this before the Jane Doe II/Nathan Campbell incident came to light?” Aldous asks.
Salz says no and adds that she believed Doe II was also flirtatious with a female teacher.
“Her behavior was consistent,” Salz says. “Nothing caused me concern.”
“After Nathan Campbell left ESD, you started issuing Jane Doe II demerits, did you not?” Aldous asks.
When Salz says she doesn’t remember the timing exactly, Aldous shows documentation that Salz did in fact issue Doe II two demerits on Jan. 14 and Jan. 27. Prior to this, Salz, who never had Doe II in class, hadn’t issued the girl a demerit.
“The bottom line is, after Nathan Campbell left and rumors started spreading, you had it in for Jane Doe II,” Aldous asks.
“That is so far from the truth, ma’am,” Salz says.
Aldous again asks Salz why she never reported incidences where she witnessed Jane Doe II being inappropriate with other teachers until after Campbell left ESD.
One example was when Jane Doe II allegedly yelled at Salz’s husband, Marc, in the commons. She was reported to have said, “How dare you tell your wife something I told you in confidence. I’ll never talk to you again.”
Tolly Salz says it was her understanding that this had been reported and there were notes of this and other incidences in Jane Doe II’s file.
“You had personal knowledge that there was something in her file about inappropriate behavior — sexually inappropriate behavior?” Aldous asks.
“I don’t know,” Salz says.
Salz keeps adding her own asides to questions, and Aldous objects. After numerous objections, Judge Benson tells Salz that if she doesn’t answer the questions, and only the questions, she will have to cite her.
Salz fights back tears.
“You actually saw Jane Doe II flirting with Nathan Campbell one day with Marc was there, didn’t you?” Aldous asks.
“No, I did not,” Salz responds.
Aldous then goes to Salz’s deposition, where she testified that she had witnessed that exact scene.
ESD asks for a brief recess for their client. The judge grants it.
Salz says while she didn’t gossip about Jane Doe II and Nathan Campbell, other teachers came to her about the alleged connection between the two.
“Do you think that’s appropriate?” Aldous asks.
After a long pause, Salz says yes.
Salz is consistently testifying in contradiction to her deposition, causing Aldous to ask her if she realized at the time that her deposition was a sworn statement. Salz says that she did.
Aldous presents a document where the ESD counselor reported on a meeting between Erin Mayo and Mr. and Mrs. Salz. In the document, the counselor attributes statements about Jane Doe II going to visit Campbell in her sports bra and short shorts to Tolly Salz.
She also reportedly said that Doe II had, “on more than one occasion, turned her body and her breasts in a way that they were touching or near touching a teacher.”
“Did you see this happen?” Aldous asks.
“Yes, in chapel,” Salz says. “It’s a very, very tight squeeze … it didn’t concern me at the time.” (Salz did not report the incident until after Campbell had resigned.)
“That’s not for me to decide if someone else’s boundaries have or have not been breached,” Salz says.
Salz says that Sara Campbell, then Nathan’s wife, told her that Jane Doe II had been sexually abused by [another teacher at ESD] in the 2008-2009 school year, and that was why her husband was counseling Doe II. Salz says that Sara told her about this accusation because Sara was trying to figure out, “Is he the lying bastard, or is she?”
Aldous asks Salz why, upon hearing about an ESD employee’s alleged sexual abuse of a student, she hadn’t reported the rumor to administration. “It was presented to me as a cover story, not a real fact,” Salz says.
Salz says that in March when she heard about the cover story, even though she believed it to be false, she told Erin Mayo about it.
Aldous asks Salz if she tried to protect her husband, and if they had tried to discredit Jane Doe II’s character upon learning about the affair.
“I am so angry,” Salz says. “Neither one of us had any clue this was happening, nor would we have turned our backs on anyone ever.”
Salz then put her head in her hands and began to sob.
Aldous passes witness.
Lunch recess until 1:30 p.m.
Shonn Brown leads the cross-examination for ESD. She asks Salz what her definition of flirtatious is.
“When I think of the word flirt, I think of something that is carefree, like I have an inside joke with you. I’m confident with you,” Salz says.
Brown then goes to say if that’s the kind of “smiley, jokey” behavior that Jane Doe II, or any student at ESD exhibited, is that something you’d typically report to administration?
“No,” Salz says.
Responding to a question about the role of an advisor at ESD, Salz says, “We’re the touch point person to make sure no child falls through the cracks.”
Salz recalls an incident where two students came up to her and were “very disturbed” because, they said, Jane Doe II had told them about her relationship with Campbell and described it as a consensual sexual relationship. This is also when Doe II reportedly asked other students to see if Sara Campbell was wearing her wedding ring.
“Our job is to make sure all of our students are safe,” Salz says, adding that her office is “a big giant fishbowl with windows everywhere.”
“Do you bear any ill will toward Jane Doe II?” Brown asks.
“Absolutely not,” Salz says. “Absolutely not.”
Aldous begins the rebuttal, asking Salz about an incident before Campbell left when she saw another male teacher receive a text message from Jane Doe II in chapel.
“You didn’t give her a demerit then, did you?” Aldous asks.
“No, I didn’t,” Salz says.
There are a couple passes back and forth before Salz is finally excused.
Dr. Laura McCracken, Jane Doe II’s therapist, takes the stand. She discusses her background and experience with counseling child sexual abuse victims and research regarding the grooming process.
She says she believes Doe II’s grooming process began at the beginning of her sophomore year.
McCracken says Campbell threatened Doe II, saying he would destroy her life if she didn’t meet with him. She says this is textbook grooming/sexual predator behavior.
McCracken says she talked to John Doe the day before he had to withdraw his daughter. She told him to ask ESD what they were going to do about teachers violating boundaries with Doe II by asking her about Campbell.
“Would you have recommended Jane Doe II be expelled on Jan. 27?” Cyndy Goosen asks.
“No, because it was too sudden and she would feel she was to blame,” McCracken says. “It would cause her more trauma.”
McCracken reads from her therapy notes the day she found out Jane Doe II had been expelled.
“Overall the concern is she will likely feel re-victimized by the school. It seems to have been handled very poorly,” McCracken’s notes read.
“It implies blame and that they wanted to get rid of her,” she adds on the stand. “I was extremely worried and stressed out by the whole situation.”
McCracken says Jane Doe II will continue to have “her ups and downs,” and that likely triggers for sexual abuse victims include the next time they enter into a sexual relationship, getting married, and having children.
Goosen asks McCracken what kinds of problems did Doe II have as a result of Campbell and ESD.
McCracken says depression, anxiety, sleep problems, nightmares, and irritablity.
“Will she likely continue to have problems?” Goosen asks.
“Yes, I’m sorry to say,” McCracken says.
Royce West is cross-examining McCracken, and opens with this.
“You have not past experience with the victims of student/teacher sexual assault, do you?” He asks.
McCracken says that’s correct.
“And you have no experience with a victim of sexual assault being expelled, do you?” West asks.
McCracken says no.
“This is your first rodeo, so to speak?” West asks.
“As it relates to a student victim of a teacher sexual assault being expelled from a school, yes,” McCracken says.
West asks if McCracken would agree with the American Psychological Association that the most serious types of sexual abuse are perpetrated by family members and/or by using force.
“I would agree, but that’s not an exhaustive list,” she says.
“Was it appropriate for ESD to refer Jane Doe II to therapy?” West asks.
“Yes,” McCracken says.
“Was it appropriate for them to alert CPS?” West asks.
“Yes, it’s a liability for them to do so,” McCracken says, adding that if they were to get sued, it would be crucial that they contacted CPS.
West asks how much trauma and anxiety Campbell caused Jane Doe II.
McCracken says “a significant amount.”
West asks her to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10, but Goosen objects and Benson tells West to move on.
West is going through notes from Jane Doe II’s therapy sessions with McCracken. He also looks at a note about a telephone call McCracken had with ESD psychologist Dr. Any McGerrahan after Doe II was expelled. McGerrahan told McCracken that “essentially everyone” knew that it was Jane Doe II who had been involved with Campbell and that several students had come to him to talk about the situation.
“Is it fair to say that your biggest problem with ESD is that they abruptly ended her time at the school?” West asks.
“Yes, I had a problem with the way it was done,” McCracken says.
“The way it was done or the decision?” West asks.
“I don’t think she needed to be expelled,” McCracken says.
“If ESD had not separated her from the school, she still would’ve suffered trauma, correct?” West asks.
“Yes, at the hands of Nathan Campbell,” McCracken says.
Pass witness. Goosen has no further questions so the witness is excused. Jury goes home for the day.
ESD asks to present an offer of proof on why certain parts of John Doe’s video deposition should be admitted into evidence.
Aldous says that they can simply have the video deposition admitted as evidence for that same purpose, but Chrysta Castaneda, lead counsel for ESD takes issue with that idea.
“The Court of Appeals looks for testimony to be written into the court record,” Castaneda says.
The judge allows it. And thus begins a 30 minute clip of testimony in which nothing terribly exciting happens. Here are the highlights:
John Doe says his daughter had a midnight curfew on weekends and a 10 p.m. curfew on weeknights. He says he did not monitor her cell phone usage until after the Nov. 29, 2009 incident with the Farmers Branch Police.
Doe also says he and his wife did not do anything to verify that their daughter was spending the night at a friend’s house when she told them that she was.
Doe says he had a discussion with his daughter about appropriate behavior with boys when she was 13. He says he did this with all his daughters (he has three) when they were younger.
An unidentified ESD attorney then asked the question many on the blog are posing:
“Inappropriate acts occurred at your home, and you didn’t discover them, did you?” the attorney asks.
“No,” Doe says.
“But you are suing the school and the diocese for not discovering inappropriate behavior?” he asks.
“Yes,” the father says, adding, “It’s my opinion that the school has an equal responsibility, perhaps more, in protecting my child.”
West asks if the jury can hear this testimony.
Benson says no.
Court is in recess until 9 a.m. tomorrow.
UPDATE 6:30 p.m.
I just got off the phone with Tolly Salz, who wanted to correct the representation made about her testimony at 11:50 a.m. It was my understanding from the testimony and exhibits used that Salz had not told administration about the “cover story” Campbell used with his wife. However, Salz says that she did tell Mayo as soon as she heard it, which was in the spring. This confused me because a document telling the same story was dated 1/29/10, so it appeared that Salz had heard the story in January but didn’t tell administration until March. That was incorrect. She said she told them immediately. I apologize for the error and have made a correction above as well.