Shivani Patel and Megan Diskin Ventura County Star
The Ventura County Family Justice Center is offering assistance to survivors of alleged sexual misconduct and abuse at the Thacher School in Ojai, officials said Thursday.
The center’s offering comes in response to allegations detailed in a 91-page report released by the private co-ed boarding school last week. The school’s board of trustees hired a Los Angeles law firm last fall to independently review the allegations against faculty, staff and students, which span 40 years.
The justice center said in a news release that survivors may be eligible for health insurance benefits, emergency assistance, referrals to mental health specialists and other services in Ventura County or where they reside.
The center, which operates under the purview of the county district attorney’s office, provides a variety of free and confidential services to those affected by domestic violence, sexual assault and other violent crimes, regardless of whether they have reported the offenses to law enforcement.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Jump stressed that help is available even to those who do not want to be involved in a criminal case.
Survivors’ loved ones can also play a role by encouraging them to seek out resources, said Jump, who oversees victim and community services in the district attorney’s office. The effects of trauma are long-lasting, he said.
“Even if there is a statute of limitations issue in some of the Thacher cases, they can still receive services here — even if there may never be a prosecution,” Jump said.
Survivors can be connected to counseling and crisis intervention through the center, said Dina Zuhric, supervisor of the crime victims assistance unit. She said officials were looking into whether the California Victim Compensation Board may also be able to provide some assistance.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office has begun its investigation into the allegations. Thacher leadership gave investigators a short summary of many of the alleged incidents on June 7, but they didn’t receive the school’s full report until June 16, when it appeared on the school’s website, officials said.
The sheriff’s office issued a news release on Thursday, encouraging anyone with information related to the Thacher investigation to contact Sgt. Hector Macias at 805-384-4730.
While some of the allegations in the law firm’s review had been reported to the sheriff’s office, sheriff’s officials said the majority were not. Investigators are working with the law firm and Thacher to contact named and unnamed victims, suspects and witnesses.
“The Sheriff’s Office believes there may be additional victims or witnesses who were not contacted and/or included in the (law firm’s) investigative report,” the news release states.
Investigators said they will look at each incident and try to determine whether a crime was committed and if the statute of limitations has expired.
Thacher has retained the law firm, Munger, Tolles & Olson, to receive reports of sexual misconduct through September, according to a letter from board chair Dan Yih. The contact is email@example.com or calling 213-683-4910. After September, they can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ventura County Family Justice Center at 3170 Loma Vista Road, Ventura, is open weekdays 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Contact in person or at 805-652-7655, email@example.com. or by text at (805) 947-7981.