Sexual Abuse at The Thacher School
There is hope, healing, and justice for survivors of sexual abuse at The Thacher School.
A special committee report issued by the Board of Trustees of The Thacher School was released in June 2021, detailing at least four decades of sexual misconduct, harassment, and other inappropriate “boundary crossing” transgressions by faculty members at the Thacher School.
Image: “The Thacher School, Ojai, California”
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After many complaints by alumni of sexual misconduct, harassment, and other inappropriate behavior, the Thacher Board of Trustees hired an independent law firm, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, to investigate the allegations. The firm’s final report to the Board of Trustees can be viewed in its entirety here.
Munger, Tolle & Olson LLP interviewed numerous former Thacher students and Thacher parents, reviewed over 40,000 documents provided by the Thacher School, and several posts from Instagram accounts containing specific allegations of sexual misconduct. The report documents allegations of sexual abuse and harassment by specific faculty and staff members of The Thacher School, with allegations spanning four decades. In addition to the six alleged perpetrators of sexual misconduct identified in the report in graphic detail, the report further alleges concerted efforts by former Thacher administrators to cover-up complaints and deflect blame on the survivors who went to them for help.
After receiving the report, the Thacher School Board Trustees concluded the school allowed “sexual misconduct to be minimized, ignored and dismissed.” The Board further acknowledged “some students were shamed, silenced, and not heard.” A copy of the conclusions reached by the Thacher Board of Trustees can be viewed here.
If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual abuse at The Thacher School, we can help. Our firm has empowered hundreds of survivors of child sexual abuse to take legal action to expose perpetrators, hold abusers and those who enable and harbor them accountable, and to support and guide our clients in their journey of healing. In conjunction with California law firm Donahoo & Associates, our team of attorneys offers compassionate, intelligent, and tough legal representation. We want to help you. Contact us confidentially today.
The following people who worked within The Thacher School have had allegations of sexual abuse made against them. Click on the name below for more information for each person:
Headmaster at Thacher 1975-1992. Died in 2014.
Willard “Bill” Wyman II was Headmaster of The Thacher School from 1975 – 1992. In January 1992, group of faculty and students brought complaints against Wyman to the Thacher Board of Trustees. Trustees then retained outside counsel to investigate the complaints. Interviews with students and faculty were summarized by the investigator in a January 30, 1992, report. The report found “a pattern of offensive verbal conduct and improper touching” by Headmaster Wyman. Wyman resigned at the end of the 1992 school year and took the title of Headmaster Emeritus. Wyman died in 2014.
On February 11, 1992, the Board Chair sent a letter of reprimand to Wyman directing him to modify his behavior. The letter referred to “very serious allegations of sexual harassment”. That same day, a female former faculty member filed a lawsuit against the school and Wyman for sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and wrongful termination.
Started at Thacher in 1985, resigned in late 1980s.
Timothy Regan began working at Thacher School in fall of 1985 as an English teacher, he resigned shortly after in the late 1980’s when he was accused of sexually abusing one of his students.
Thacher’s special committee report alleges that Regan raped one of his students when she was 16 years old during her sophomore year of High School. This student alleges that Regan continued to sexually abuse her multiple times a week throughout her sophomore year and into her junior year.
According to the report, early in her junior year, she shared some information about Regan with her mother. Deeply concerned, her mother contacted the school and told them to put a stop to Regan’s contact with her daughter. After her mother contacted the school, Mr. Wyman (Headmaster of Thacher) arranged for the female student to meet with a psychologist not affiliated with the school. When faculty confronted Regan about his inappropriate conduct with this student, Regan resigned and left campus immediately.
The report states that investigators were unable to find any written evidence that anyone at Thacher ever reported Regan to the police. The police report on this case shows the students psychologist notified the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department of possible child abuse involving Timothy Regan, three weeks after Regan resigned. After Regan left campus, neither faculty nor students were given an explanation as to why Regan quit working at Thacher.
Started at Thacher in 1987, resigned in 1997.
John Friborg started at Thacher in 1987. He was a counselor, soccer coach, and occasional teacher. He was dean of students from 1992-1993 and Dorm Head for the sophomore boys’ dorm in 1994-1995. Friborg resigned in 1997.
Friborg’s history of having improper conduct with students precludes the decade he spent working at Thacher. Before Thacher, he worked at The Governor’s Academy, a boarding school in Massachusetts. At that same school at the same time was future Thacher Head of School, Michael Mulligan. Both Friborg and Mulligan were teachers and coaches. According to Mulligan, while at Governor’s Academy, Friborg had an inappropriate relationship with a senior on the girls’ soccer team. Mulligan reported Friborg to the school and Friborg was fired at the end of the school year as a result of his conduct with the senior girl.
A few years later, Friborg was hired at Thacher as Associate Director of Development and the girls’ soccer coach. Multiple firsthand student accounts state Friborg’s misconduct ranged from grooming behavior to giving students massages to sexual touching. His sexual misconduct involved four then-current students and two students who had graduated less than a year before the misconduct.
Three students met with Michael Mulligan in June of 1997 and told him of their unfortunate encounters with Friborg. According to Thacher’s report, Mulligan told the students there were two sides to each story and said it could be lonely at the school for a single person. Mulligan confronted Friborg with the allegations, Friborg admitted they were true and resigned.
Started working at Thacher in 1995, resigned in 2021.
Derick Perry, an alumnus himself, graduated from Thacher in 1983. Perry returned to Thacher in 1995 as a teacher. Perry stopped teaching and joined the Alumni & Development Office in 2011. Perry resigned in June 2021 and is prohibited from campus and attending school functions. Perry has been accused of having improper relations with a female student and sexual misconduct with this student after she graduated from Thacher. The report states that this former student now believes Perry’s inappropriate conduct while she was a student was grooming her for later sexual misconduct.
When investigators interviewed Perry for the Thacher special committee report, he did not deny sending sexually explicit emails to female alums. Perry also stated, regarding his accusers’ time as a student, “My actions were wholly with the boundaries of Thacher norms at the time.”
Started at Thacher in early 2010’s, left Thacher in 2020.
Dana Vancisin Schryver joined the Thacher horse faculty in the early 2010’s, at that time she was in her early 20’s. Vancisin left Thacher in 2020, her departure was unrelated to conduct discussed in the special committee report. Multiple witnesses stated to investigators that, early in her career at Thacher, Vancisin had a boundary-crossing relationship with a senior boy. A faculty member stated that she reported the relationship to an administrator after the boy’s mother complained about Vancisin’s flirtatious behavior with her son.
The male student emailed Head of School Michael Mulligan a few years after graduating saying he had formed “an emotional connection” with Vancisin while at school, but they “did not engage in any inappropriate physical behavior”. Vancisin denied engaging in any sexual misconduct and declined investigator’s request for an interview for the special report.
Started at Thacher in 1991, retired in 2020.
The allegations against Jacobsen are of a different nature than others made in the special report and do not involve touching of the erogenous zones. Former students reported that Jacobsen would give female students shoulder rubs and always placed his hand on their backs. One student reported that Jacobsen would single her out for special treatment, he hugged her, touched her on her shoulders and on her torso.
Multiple witnesses also state that Jacobsen would walk through the freshmen girls’ dorm when girls were showering. Female students report they would run into Jacobsen while walking back to their rooms from the shower covered only in towels, Jacobsen would be there even when he was not on dorm duty. School administration received multiple complaints from students about Jacobsen making them uncomfortable with physical contact, preferential treatment and comments that were inappropriate for a teacher/student relationship. The incidents involving Jacobsen mentioned in Thacher’s report occurred in the 2000s and the 2010s.
Misconduct with a female student led to Jacobsen being let go from Thacher. He was called in by administration regarding complaints against him and was informed that he would be retiring at the end of the year. Thacher’s report states that administration would have fired Jacobsen if he did not agree to retire. Jacobsen was able to retire without any mention of the circumstances leading to his retirement.
If you have any additional information about any of the clergy listed above, or if we are missing a known perpetrator in this list, please let us know: