A military school in Kansas is in the news again, this time for an alleged sexual assault inflicted upon a young boy by an elder student. St. John’s Military School has suspended an 18-year-old cadet after he was arrested last week on charges of sexual battery at its Salina campus.
President Andy England says that school officials are working with the local police department to conduct an investigation into the allegations. They have confirmed that the victim is under the age of 18, and Police Lt. Scott Siemsen clarified that the cadet was not raped. Sexual battery in Kansas usually involves “unwanted touching or other inappropriate contact for the purposes of sexual gratification.” Further details are still being kept under wraps.
This is not St. John’s first time at the rodeo when it comes to sexual and/or abusive assault accusations. The school is currently involved in a federal lawsuit filed by 11 former students and their families, who contend that the quasi-military cadet program encourages physical and mental abuse.
Court records show that the school has settled nine previous abuse-related lawsuits filed since 2006.
What the ... ? When I think of military boarding schools, I think of either a) the place to send your unruly child to straighten him out (we can’t all time travel in a phone booth with Rufus and ‘Beeth-oven’ a la Bill-and-Ted style to pass our history exams), or b) an elite academy where students are groomed to become leaders in their fields. I don't think about a place that turns a blind eye to the abuse of younger students by their elder classmates.
Settlements don’t prove guilt any more than charges do, but come on -- something fishy seems to be going on. St. John's denies that a culture of abuse exists at the school, but something is not right. We have over 20 incidences in the last six or seven years where young boys have claimed to be abused.
The school uses a student-to-student disciplinary system, allowing the seniors to punish younger students. Past claims have included charges of binding, gagging, beating, and urinating as forms of correction. The parents of the allegedly abused students argue that more extensive security and surveillance should have been employed in the dorms where the kids lived.
I can’t say that I disagree with that assessment, and I certainly hope that St. John’s is taking measures to ensure the safety of their students. If nothing else, they should do so for their own protection -- if this abuse isn’t actually occurring, then they’re getting a bad rap for no reason at all.
Would you ever send your child to a boarding school? Does this story make you wary of the idea?
Image via KWCH 12