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Von Metzke "groomed" underaged girls by texting

Teens reported him, but theatre slow to act

Junior Theater 2007 Peter Pan.
Junior Theater 2007 Peter Pan.

Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 were best friends — and both were active in San Diego Junior Theatre, and had had sex with Eric von Metzke, a junior theatre teacher, when they were underage and he was in his mid-30s. Indeed, he first had sex with Jane Doe 2 when she was only 16.

Eric von Metzke has been sentenced to three years in prison for having sex with an underage girl. As a result, Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 are are no longer best friends. Jane Doe 1 told the San Diego Police about her relationships with von Metzke. Jane Doe 2 refused to do so, because she believed she was in love with von Metzke, who was sent to the slammer only for his relationships with Jane Doe 1.

So Jane Doe 1 recently got a message from her former best friend: "Fk you [for] sending the love of my life to prison."

More interviews with people involved in the von Metzke case reveal very disturbing facts about the San Diego Junior Theatre. For example, a person who suspects that an underage girl or boy is being sexually exploited by an adult, is supposed to take the complaint to Child Protective Services or to the local police. One person who worked at the theatre for more than two decades swears that he was never aware of one lesson given to faculty members in when and how to report possible child abuse. Apparently, a current board member, who is a lawyer, suggested that such classes be set up, but they never were. Nor were teachers told that as people in position of trust or authority with young people, they had a special duty to report sexual abuse of the underaged.

Von Metzke had a peculiar affinity for girls half his age. He texted provocative messages to young girls. One young female texted to another, "Eric has been hitting on me and other girls." A mother says, "He was telling them they are pretty, making advances, texting them. He is charismatic, charming," and it was no surprise that Jane Doe 2 considered him "the hottest thing on the planet."

He took young people aged 14 and younger to an entertainment venue in the Los Angeles area, although there were no reports of sexual activity. He took a 14-year-old girl to an event by herself. Because he worked closely with Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, teenagers told the teachers that they were uncomfortable being taught, in particular, by von Metzke and Jane Doe 2. James Saba, executive director of the the theatre, was allegedly informed of the teens' wariness, say people close to the theatre. But he initially didn't do anything.

A female teacher, age 24, took a boy age 16 to Disneyland. They spent the night there. Even before he officially took his position, Saba recommended that the young lady be fired. She was. But later, according to a long-time employee of the theatre, Saba hired her back.

It was well known that von Metzke hung around socially with the Does 1 and 2 and a young man who is now estimated to be 20. Despite all the talk about the frequent socializing of the four, there was no action against von Metzke. The young man and Doe 1 "were caught in a closet together, in a compromising position," says one who worked at the theatre. The young man "was a good friend of Eric." Rumors roared, but apparently officials did not react.

Doe 2 was an aide to teacher von Metzke. After word got around, she was terminated. But he was not, at least initially, according to members of the reformers' group.

"The sleepovers involved a woman in her 30s," says a former theatre employee. "No one insinuated sexual happenings, but it was indicative of the culture there."

One theater pro, an outsider, directed one production. He got hold of von Metzke's text messages to underaged females. "The predatory behavior was pretty damned clear," he says ."I tried to warn the Junior Theatre about this." He called and got the runaround. He finally got to the person in charge of such matters and got the distinct feeling of a brush-off. "There is a pattern of protection there. The kids were aware" of what was going on.

A few days ago, when the von Metzke news broke, Saba sent out a message headed "Dear Junior Theatre Family:" The letter from Saba claimed "When the allegations were reported to Junior Theatre, we immediately contacted [the San Diego Police Department] and filed a police report. Mr. von Metzke was put on administrative leave, and ultimately terminated as an employee…Please be assured that all Junior Theatre employees undergo a full background check and complete State Mandated Reporter training before they are hired."

Junior Theatre certainly did not act "immediately," as Saba claims. That is clear from interviews. And people question the claim of training. In fact, the environment at Junior Theatre was dubious. One who worked there says, "They love Jimmy Saba and circle the wagons around him."

I tried to reach Saba. Today (June 24), telephone company information gave me a San Diego Couny number for him. But when I dialed it, I learned it was disconnected. I could not reach the media relations executive.

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Junior Theater 2007 Peter Pan.
Junior Theater 2007 Peter Pan.

Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 were best friends — and both were active in San Diego Junior Theatre, and had had sex with Eric von Metzke, a junior theatre teacher, when they were underage and he was in his mid-30s. Indeed, he first had sex with Jane Doe 2 when she was only 16.

Eric von Metzke has been sentenced to three years in prison for having sex with an underage girl. As a result, Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 are are no longer best friends. Jane Doe 1 told the San Diego Police about her relationships with von Metzke. Jane Doe 2 refused to do so, because she believed she was in love with von Metzke, who was sent to the slammer only for his relationships with Jane Doe 1.

So Jane Doe 1 recently got a message from her former best friend: "Fk you [for] sending the love of my life to prison."

More interviews with people involved in the von Metzke case reveal very disturbing facts about the San Diego Junior Theatre. For example, a person who suspects that an underage girl or boy is being sexually exploited by an adult, is supposed to take the complaint to Child Protective Services or to the local police. One person who worked at the theatre for more than two decades swears that he was never aware of one lesson given to faculty members in when and how to report possible child abuse. Apparently, a current board member, who is a lawyer, suggested that such classes be set up, but they never were. Nor were teachers told that as people in position of trust or authority with young people, they had a special duty to report sexual abuse of the underaged.

Von Metzke had a peculiar affinity for girls half his age. He texted provocative messages to young girls. One young female texted to another, "Eric has been hitting on me and other girls." A mother says, "He was telling them they are pretty, making advances, texting them. He is charismatic, charming," and it was no surprise that Jane Doe 2 considered him "the hottest thing on the planet."

He took young people aged 14 and younger to an entertainment venue in the Los Angeles area, although there were no reports of sexual activity. He took a 14-year-old girl to an event by herself. Because he worked closely with Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, teenagers told the teachers that they were uncomfortable being taught, in particular, by von Metzke and Jane Doe 2. James Saba, executive director of the the theatre, was allegedly informed of the teens' wariness, say people close to the theatre. But he initially didn't do anything.

A female teacher, age 24, took a boy age 16 to Disneyland. They spent the night there. Even before he officially took his position, Saba recommended that the young lady be fired. She was. But later, according to a long-time employee of the theatre, Saba hired her back.

It was well known that von Metzke hung around socially with the Does 1 and 2 and a young man who is now estimated to be 20. Despite all the talk about the frequent socializing of the four, there was no action against von Metzke. The young man and Doe 1 "were caught in a closet together, in a compromising position," says one who worked at the theatre. The young man "was a good friend of Eric." Rumors roared, but apparently officials did not react.

Doe 2 was an aide to teacher von Metzke. After word got around, she was terminated. But he was not, at least initially, according to members of the reformers' group.

"The sleepovers involved a woman in her 30s," says a former theatre employee. "No one insinuated sexual happenings, but it was indicative of the culture there."

One theater pro, an outsider, directed one production. He got hold of von Metzke's text messages to underaged females. "The predatory behavior was pretty damned clear," he says ."I tried to warn the Junior Theatre about this." He called and got the runaround. He finally got to the person in charge of such matters and got the distinct feeling of a brush-off. "There is a pattern of protection there. The kids were aware" of what was going on.

A few days ago, when the von Metzke news broke, Saba sent out a message headed "Dear Junior Theatre Family:" The letter from Saba claimed "When the allegations were reported to Junior Theatre, we immediately contacted [the San Diego Police Department] and filed a police report. Mr. von Metzke was put on administrative leave, and ultimately terminated as an employee…Please be assured that all Junior Theatre employees undergo a full background check and complete State Mandated Reporter training before they are hired."

Junior Theatre certainly did not act "immediately," as Saba claims. That is clear from interviews. And people question the claim of training. In fact, the environment at Junior Theatre was dubious. One who worked there says, "They love Jimmy Saba and circle the wagons around him."

I tried to reach Saba. Today (June 24), telephone company information gave me a San Diego Couny number for him. But when I dialed it, I learned it was disconnected. I could not reach the media relations executive.

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Comments
74

Thank you for writing this, Don. It does a great job of explaining why people who have been upset about the issues in the previous articles are linking this to the overall situation. This is yet another piece to the much larger whole of corruption, ineptitude, and lack of concern for the safety of students. I implore the CA Attorney General and the government of the City of San Diego to take care of this mess.

To those parents and families who still support Junior Theatre, please take a closer look at these issues. JT was once a wonderful place, but this is no longer the case. Please speak up and demand that those responsible are removed and replaced with people who will look out for your children.

June 25, 2017

ColleenB: I suppose the board and administration think everything has been repaired because Jimmy Saba put out a statement recently. But the people I have talked with contradict his statement in several critical areas. It is time for law enforcement to look at the JT environment beyond the von Metzke matter. Best, Don Bauder

June 25, 2017

I completely agree. Time for a big change at SDJT. There is no way I will allow my children to participate in any further productions until this mess is cleaned up. It is unconscionable for this theatre to be allowed to operate business as usual any longer. It's time for ALL JT families to stand together and fight to get the theatre back!

June 25, 2017

FriendsJT: One of the worst offenses in my judgment was the lack of training of teachers and staff on the subject of child abuse. It appears there was little to no training until quite recently, after the von Metzke news broke. Best, Don Bauder

June 26, 2017

What a story and such an important point.
There must be explicit professional training in the interpersonal responsibilities of adult drama teachers to young drama students. Youth theater experiences cannot be islands unto themselves -- they are by definition creative, warm, emotional environments involving impressionable young performers who work long hours with instructors beyond parental oversight. Rules help everyone know what's appropriate. Now I'm wondering if there is such training at other local junior theater organizations.

June 26, 2017

monaghan: Right you are. The Junior Theatre dropped the ball in training. Interviews confirm that. Training is especially important because certain professionals working with children are required to report a credible suspicion of adult sex with underage kids. Best, Don Bauder

June 26, 2017

Here is a link to JT's Employee Handbook, dated January 2014--most likely the one in effect at the time of the crimes in question.

It is 55 pages long but without a single word about mandated child abuse reporting.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B08yz1LW0YyNZFNrNlNpSzdNc3c

June 25, 2017

MattDValenti: That should make interesting reading. Three people told me that there was no training in the matter of underage relationships, although there may have been training after the von Metzke mess broke into the open late last year.

Says Francia Cohen FX Mua, "I was there seven years. No training whatsoever." Best, Don Bauder

June 25, 2017

seems they were well versed in covering it up.

June 26, 2017

Murphyjunk: That appears to be the case. It would be a tragedy if this matter is swept under the rug and things go on as usual. Best, Don Bauder

June 26, 2017

For more background and extensively documented evidence about the Board's abject failure to properly run the organization, putting children at risk, see the complaint I submitted to the Attorney General in March: http://jtoversightgroup.org/complaint-to-the-attorney-general/

June 25, 2017

Matt Valenti: Someone in law enforcement should demand to see the so-called investigation by Cramp, a prominent attorney. Someone should go over with him and Cabrera all the various accusations by students, teachers, parents and audience members. If almost everybody knew of these egregious events, did Cramp ask the right questions? Best, Don Bauder

June 25, 2017

Matt: Yes, that 110-page document is disquieting reading. I have read some of the texts among young people. They knew what was going on. Best, Don Bauder

June 25, 2017

I"ve been following this disturbing discussion quite closely, also on the related Facebook page, Friends of Rayme and Tony SDJT. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1159205330824538/ I'm choosing to comment here now under a pseudonym, because this is all such sensitive information. Don, unfortunately I can testify to a few of your new points. I have also heard from teenage JT students that Eric had a well-known reputation for coming on to female students while he was teaching at JT. This was an open secret. Some of the girl students made social media posts about their private outings with Eric to fairs and such, following his invitations. Some of these girls reportedly were 14 years and younger. No teacher should be crossing that line!

I know for a fact that in the spring of 2016 this behavior was brought to the attention of JT management, after enough teenagers at JT got the same weird feeling about Eric. (They knew that he was 35 and an official JT teacher, after all). Apparently, some JT employees were ethical enough to try to do something about Eric's inappropriate outreach to teenage girls. But top management blocked them, and didn't take the issue seriously.

I have also heard the alarming story that Eric had previously been fired from a production of another youth theater company, after it came out that he had been sending flirtatious texts to a female cast member under 18 (expressing compliments, asking to connect with her outside of rehearsals etc). It is shocking to hear now that JT was actually informed of that incident and still did nothing!

Where there is smoke, there is fire. Eric's trespassing with Jane Doe was not a singular event. It was part of a well-established pattern of behavior. I love the Peter Pan motive that you chose as a photo for this article! Some people have voiced that Eric may have had "felt" younger than he was, and that is why he was drawn to teenagers. After studying the court documents, that seemed to be the case. No excuse of course for how he acted & how management chose NOT to act.

We can be thankful to the family who ended up pressing charges. Otherwise, Eric would still be able to roam among the JT student population, looking for more teenagers to charm. Now the task is to link it back to grave management oversights, as you bring up: No mandated reporting training, long delays before reporting an incident etc., general atmosphere of protecting perpetrators.

June 25, 2017

Also, if anyone still doubts that Eric knew what he was doing when he coerced Jane Doe in his car, please read the police accounts for yourself: https://cdn.fbsbx.com/v/t59.2708-21/19292237_1569785346386393_3642766242835595264_n.pdf/People-v-Vonmetzke.pdf?oh=c9218b7b7e5324b0cae24faee97ab02a&oe=594EBD0E&dl=1

They were posted under Don Bauder's previous article. It's heartbreaking to read, and very illuminating!

June 25, 2017

YetAnotherConcernedParent: I used much material from the sentencing memorandum in my first piece on von Metzke's three-year sentence. Best, Don Bauder

June 25, 2017

YetAnotherConcernedParent: I am not aware that von Metzke had been fired from another junior theater job for such behavior. If so, why did JT hire him? Didn't the organization do its homework on someone applying for a position? I would think that is critical for an organization dealing with young people.

Don't credit me for the Peter Pan motive. Somebody else gets credit for that.

From an intellectual, conversational standpoint, what does a 35-year-old man see in a girl of 16 or 17…or even less than 14, in von Metzke's case? What does a 24-year-old female see in a 16-year-old boy? Remember, I am just talking about intellectual, conversational matters. Why does a man socialize with, and sexually abuse, a girl less than half his age? I understand the sexual attraction, but a man 35 should be so much wiser than a girl or boy half his age that he would find their conversation stultifying. But one mother told me the girls were mature -- more mature than von Metzke. Best, Don Bauder

June 25, 2017

Don,

Just wanted to clarify that Eric was told he would not be given any more shows to direct at JT but was allowed to keep teaching classes and camps there. He was told that this was because of his inappropriate relationship with a JT student.

It is also worth noting that the girl he was having this relationship with was fired from JT for this behavior even though Eric was not. It may sound confusing, but older kids at JT serve as teaching assistants while still being students themselves. So she was fired and he was not.

He continued to teach at JT until January 2017.

June 25, 2017

jennvalenti: This is revolting. JT knows about his activities, says he can't direct any more shows, but allows him to keep teaching classes at camps. Does 1 and 2 joined him at camp. Best, Don Bauder

June 25, 2017

[Didn't the organization do its homework on someone applying for a position? I would think that is critical for an organization dealing with young people.]

Don, this is a critical question that needs to be answered by every local children's theatre group. Junior Theatre's history on this topic is long. One of their higher-level in-house Directors was fired 10 years ago for exposing JT students to narcotics at one of their satellites in San Diego county. After having been fired, pornography was found on the Director's computer at JT. (Not child pornography, to be clear, but this was in the JT office where students frequented.)

If this individual was now working on a production with young students at another local children's theatre - and had been recently hired for numerous productions in Coronado (again, including children) - wouldn't you think that none of these organizations do their homework on someone applying for a position? The problem of responsible handling of child actors certainly appears to start with SDJT, but this may be (should be) a more pervasive concern across children's theatre in San Diego in general.

June 26, 2017

erniegrubenmeyer: Any institution dealing with young people should look into the backgrounds of those being hired. Any untoward behavior with young people, especially sexual exploitation, should go into a computerized data base. Best, Don Bauder

June 26, 2017

YetAnotherConcernedParent: Thank you for taking the time to read all the reports and getting the FACTS. I know it is a time consuming and quite disturbing read.

Thank you for commenting and getting involved. Hopefully the more concerned individuals speak up, the sooner Saba and the Board of Trustees will be removed and the mess at JT will be cleaned up.

The safety of the children at Junior Theatre is not something to delay.

Best, Linda Turner

June 25, 2017

Linda Turner: Agreed. As Matt Valenti says, the purpose of his investigation was to protect the students. Best, Don Bauder

June 25, 2017
This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.
June 25, 2017

Formerstudent: I have heard about, but can't validify, the alleged events of the last three people on your list. Interesting that, as alleged, JT staff just had its first mandated reporter training in over a decade. One person says there was no training for 20 years, another says no training for 7 years, which was the full time she worked there. This kind of training should be continuous. Best, Don Bauder

June 25, 2017

Here is a working link for the court proceedings.I really suggest to anyone interested in this case to read for themselves what happened. The detectives did a marvelous job getting to the truth of the matter: https://cdn.fbsbx.com/v/t59.2708-21/19292237_1569785346386393_3642766242835595264_n.pdf/People-v-Vonmetzke-3.pdf?oh=5aa4df0d284b609080f73aa155910be6&oe=595273E6&dl=1

June 25, 2017

YetAnotherConcernedParent. Yes, it makes interesting reading, but it may make one depressed. Note how, as is usual, von Metzke starts out denying everything, but finally begins admitting what happened. Remember, this is only one case -- Jane Doe 1. Jane Doe 2 refused to speak with police, and so only the Doe 1 case was used in the prosecution. Best, Don Bauder

June 25, 2017

I didn't think it could get any worse, but it did--it's truly tragic if even one of these allegations is true, let alone the entire scope of reported misconduct. Thank you for your continuing work on this, Don Bauder.

June 25, 2017

EngineerBella: Some statements by young people and parents may turn out to be somewhat off base, but the pattern of JT's staff and board appears to be established. And that cries out for an immediate house-cleaning. Best, Don Bauder

June 26, 2017

Barb Mulvany: The behavior by staff and board appears reprehensible, but not criminal -- at least at this point. Best, Don Bauder

June 26, 2017
This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.
June 26, 2017

jennvalenti: Perhaps I spoke too soon. If so, mea culpa. Best, Don Bauder

June 26, 2017

Really? Knowing children are being abused and doing nothing is not a crime? I think it is for sure.

June 26, 2017

Bmulvany: OK, make that mea maxima culpa. Best, Don Bauder

June 26, 2017

Mike Murphy: You pose a good question, but I don't know the answer to it. Best, Don Bauder

June 26, 2017

I am posting on behalf of someone who is having trouble logging into the system. Their user name is reym.

I have been monitoring this situation from the east coast and want to thank Matt Valenti and Don Bauder for their vigilance in exposing this case of child abuse on a major level.

Good parents (like the ones in this San Diego community) want their children to creatively thrive in a safe environment. They believed that this JT was such an environment. Little did they realize (until recently) that their precious children would be exposed to predators and child abusers and that the JT Board of Directors who were in place to provide a safe haven for their children were at best "asleep at the wheel" or at worse implicit in covering up abuses committed by some of their own and by others that worked for them.

It would be a real travesty of justice if the Attorney General's office (who has been made aware of the situation at this JT) continues to ignore this matter and puts other cases ahead of a known child abuse and child endangerment case at JT.

June 26, 2017

jennvalenti: But remember that the state AG's office let the former CPUC head, Mike Peevey, off the hook by sitting on the case until the statute of limitations had run out. That AG is now a U.S. senator. Best, Don Bauder

June 26, 2017

Maybe the good o'l boy system won't work in this instance.

June 26, 2017

Murphyjunk: I think you are right. Best, Don Bauder

June 26, 2017

Nobody else raises your children. I went there in the 60's, my daughter in the 90's. People are sicker than ever. Don't just trust.

June 26, 2017

shirleyberan: I can speak as a parent, too. You always hope that nobody else raises your children. Others do not "raise" your children but they can be bad influences on them. I agree that people are very sick these days but not "sicker than ever." There has been more incivility and stupidity in previous periods. Best, Don Bauder

June 26, 2017

Good Don - safety is an issue in the home and out for the young.

June 26, 2017

shirleyberan: Safety is THE issue. Best, Don Bauder

June 26, 2017

I remember when I became a parent (baby girl is now 25, still on duty much as possible), Deciding I could kill to protect if necessary. Other parents Love That Much. Painful Protection Practice. NO Abuse is OK.

June 26, 2017

shirleiyberan: What parents wouldn't give up their own lives to save their children? Best, Don Bauder

June 26, 2017

I found it odd that none of the dads put a stop to what is reported to be going on?

June 27, 2017

Murphjunk: Au contraire. Matt Valenti, who has done the most to put the spotlight on Junior Theatre's malfeasance, is a father. He has filed a study of more than 100 pages with various law enforcement officials. Best, Don Bauder

June 27, 2017

how long after it came to light ?

June 27, 2017

Murphyjunk: Somehow, you have the wrong idea. Valenti pushed for reform before media got wind of what was going on. Best, Don Bauder

June 27, 2017

well, from all the evidence presented so far, sounds like it was going on for years.

June 28, 2017

Mr. Bauder,

Not only the Ca Attorney General received the 110 page complaint. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and City Attorney Mara Elliott have also received the complaint.

It might be a good idea to start calling or emailing their offices asking if they are doing anything to look into the affairs (perhaps a poor choice of words) at Junior Theatre.

Are they concerned about the safety of the children at Junior Theatre?

They've had the complaint for a couple of months.

Have they read it? Do they care? Are they more concerned about their image and affiliations with SDJT Board of Trustee members and attorneys representing the board to speak up? How would they feel if this was their daughter? Are other children not important/not their concern?

Does Mayor Faulconer feel the expansion of the SD Convention Center is more important than saving a 70 year institution in Balboa Park? Is Mayor Faulconer's focus on the Convention Center more important than the safety of children at Junior Theatre?

Has our City Attorney, Mara Elliott bothered to speak to the two attorneys in her office whom are on the SDJT Board of Trustees? They were there when the 2 whistle-blowers were fired from Junior Theatre last summer. Did they know about Eric von Metzke behavior?

I'm sure many others have their own questions. I urge them to take a moment to contact the Mayor (619) 236-6330, [email protected] and the City Attorney (619) 236-6220, [email protected], voice their concerns and ask for answers.

Thank you Don for all your hard work

Best, Linda Turner

June 26, 2017

Linda Turner: Yes, Faulconer considers expanding the convention center the most important item on the table -- more important than repair of the decrepit infrastructure, dealing with the homeless and affordable housing problems.

The only intelligent answer to the convention center is this: DON'T EXPAND IT! Convention centers are so overbuilt in the U.S. that prices are being sliced buy 50 percent. There are very few, if any, centers that come close to breaking even. In this surfeit environment, expanding a convention is about the dumbest thing any city can do. Best, Don Bauder

June 26, 2017

The controversies surrounding Junior Theatre for the past year are causing irreparable harm to the organization. So many people have asked for an independent investigation of the Board and their actions. If the Board had the organization's best interests in mind they would not be stonewalling the very families which fund the theatre.

It is time for transparency and most likely a big change for JT.

Our family, like so many others, have chosen a new theater company to feel safe at, support financially and call home. We won't be back until things change.

Edna Montalvo

June 27, 2017

Ednam: Yes, the board and administration have been trying to block any objective investigation. (There was one study that appears to have been an inside job.)

When I first took up this story earlier this year, management's attitude was that Valenti was a troublemaker, not to be trusted. Ha! Best, Don Bauder

June 27, 2017

Julie Brennan: Yes, the original position of the board and administration was that a few "noisy parents" were causing trouble and would wreck JT. Now, it is clear that those "noisy parents" were trying to save JT, and it was the board and administration that were going to ruin it through a massive coverup. Best, Don Bauder

June 27, 2017

I would be shocked if Junior Theater is still open for business in 6 months. Literally

June 27, 2017

birdrockwaverly: Oh, If JT immediately takes the termination actions that it must, and admits to the public that under its leadership the organization lost its way, and board members resign or are dismissed and replaced with local people of repute, it can survive -- I think. Best, Don Bauder

June 27, 2017

Matt Valenti: Good points. Actually, if the board and administration had merely followed the law, and your suggestions, the organization would not be wallowing in a slough of disgrace. Best, Don Bauder

June 27, 2017

Julie Brennan: You gave us some things to ponder. How soon should a supervisor report a teacher? On one rumor? A case must be built. My suspicion is the people who dropped the ball with von Metzke will argue that they felt they had to be sure -- had to build a case. But that alibi falls down for a number of reasons: the children knew what was going on and let it be known to the leaders; JT had failed to train staff and teachers on mandated reporting, and there are serious suggestions of administrators holding overnights for students, serving them alcohol, etc.

The JT culture was twisted. There is no doubt about that. Best, Don Bauder

June 27, 2017

Don, When you receive mandated reporter training you are told to report any situation that gives you the gut feeling that something is wrong. James Saba and the Board were bound by law to report Eric long before this 2nd victim was abused.

There was no case to be built. They were supposed to call CPS immediately and leave this matter to the professionals.

It is interesting to note that at will employees may be terminated at any time for any reason. JT knows this - just look at Tony and Rayme.

June 28, 2017

Ok so now there is real substantial evidence that SDJT has been negligent , For the lack of a better word. The whole idea that they did not report issues, and did not follow up on other situations, has been proven. To me at least.

Ok....NOW WHAT??

Do we all sit around and talk about all of this or do we do something about it as a community, parents, and people who want to see SDJT back to its original glory? Don't we have rights as this city's citizens to demand a new board and Executive Director? The theatre belongs to the city. Not SDJT. The city donates money to SDJT. Aren't we all the "city". What city official do we need to really crack the whip and get this ridiculous cast of Motley Crue out of SDJT. ITS RIDICULOUS at this point. Saba proved himself incapable of leading. The Board proved themselves to be self serving. Seems like a sad group of adults trying to be the cool kid now. GROW UP PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Reading the comments from all over town, it seems people aren't enrolling their kids and season ticket holders are leaving. If Saba and the board cared just an ounce about the beloved theatre, they would all step down. How embarrassing it would be for sdjt to just disappear altogether. WHY???? So a bunch of ego maniacs can put it on their resumes that they were board members. Hell.... they should leave it off. They made a mockery of it!!!

June 28, 2017

Concerned2016: In the private sector, heads roll when the business and its stock collapse. Non-profits, too, should clean house when the place falls apart. SDJT is crumbling as a result of negligence by the board and top management. It's time for major change. Best, Don Bauder

June 28, 2017

In addition to the normal care/influence instructors have at any place like this, I'd like to add some perspective about how much time these students spend at the theatre during a production. I've gone through old cast/crew schedules and added up the hours. I've used schedules from productions run during both the school year and summer months. Parents are not allowed to be present during rehearsals, which is standard.

For a school year production, over the course of 11 weeks for rehearsal and performances, the number of hours typically spent by students at SDJT are as follows:

Primary roles: 160 hours Ensemble: 140 hours Stage crew: 89.5 Usher/House manager: 43.5

Note- This does not include things like transportation to/from or classes that must be taken in order to participate. This is also during the school year, so students are also in their regular schools. The number of hours for crew varies, based on position. I calculated the crew members who have the most hours and the least hours. Most of the rest fall somewhere in between.

For summer productions, the typical number of hours for an 11 week schedule are fairly similar:

Primary roles: 176 Ensemble: 141 Stage crew:89.5 Ushers: 43.5

Most students are on summer break at this time, but again, either a class or a 2 week camp must be taken in order to qualify. Many choose camp, which adds another 60 hours spent at the theatre during this time.

My point is not to complain about the number of hours, as they are made aware of the time frame before auditioning. My point is that this makes it easy for situations like what JT is facing to crop up when you have people with few ethics in charge.

June 29, 2017

Also, I did not include the number of hours put in by students who are Stage Managers or Assistant Stage Managers, as they are not specified on the schedules, but I believe those positions put in even more hours than even the primary roles. I will update when I have that information.

June 29, 2017

ColleenB: Absolutely. A permissive atmosphere is dynamite when students are spending to much time there. Best, Don Bauder

June 30, 2017

ColleenB: Please update when you have information. Best, Don Bauder

June 30, 2017

My kids have been students at JT for the past 5 years. They have never been involved in a production, they have only taken classes and gone to camps and not once have I feared for their safety nor do I now. From everything I am hearing and reading most of the issues have been on the side of the shows produced there. Tony and Rayme, Eric, etc and while Eric Von Metze was a teacher at one point (he even taught my daughter a few years ago) the women he met were through involvement in the shows as well. While I am disgusted by his behavior and am very happy he is locked away and pray he is kept away for life from any establishment where you find young people, I felt the need to chip in here because I feel Junior Theatre is under attack and am concerned about many parents not enrolling their kids in classss and camps.

My kids have thrived in JT becoming confident and out going in a way I always hoped they would. That is part of the reason I enrolled them in classes. I have always had wonderful experiences with the teachers and while I can't speak for the people involved in putting on the shows, I have and will always felt comfortable leaving my kids there in the classroom. It would be a disservice to the community for JT to shut its doors and my children would be devasted.

I am reading many people here writing they don't want JT to shut they just want the board and Mr Saba to retire however your angry words are being read by people who have never taken classes at JT and if you continue this attack never will.

Please think about what you are writing and saying. During this difficult time in the world our kids need to have a place to thrive. Junior Theatre is still that place. I have seen enrollment decrease in my kids classes at various times and imagine JT is already struggling financially and these attacks will guarantee they shut their doors.

I agree there are important issues that need to be addressed at Junior Theatre and hope they are learning what they need to do better. But I trust the teachers and Junior Theatre as a whole and hope it will survive this.

July 2, 2017

OKJT parent: Here at the Reader, we welcome views opposing our own. There are a number of people sharing your views. And there are a number of people NOT sharing your views -- more than 300 of them signed a petition expressing misgivings of what is going on at SDJT.

If you can find more people, especially parents, with your view, we would like to hear from them. Best, Don Bauder

July 2, 2017

Thank you Don. Hearing 300 people have signed a petition unfortunately validates my fears that Junior Theatre is in danger of shutting down. From what I understand the minute JT had real proof of what happened they took action. Unfortunately how often do we hear about this exact thing happening in public schools and churches? Would we take action to shut down that school or church because of the action of one sick person? The rumors about other instructors have mostly sounded innocent. We don't send our kids there for a full time education. This is supposed to be fun for them. Yes, let's be sure our kids are safe there!! That is essential. All of the teachers are finger printed. If they were in danger we would and will know. Eric obviously did not have a prior record.

I am concerned that I keep hearing a lot of conclusions being jumped to. Without being there none of us can know for sure what happened. We can make guesses from fear. But in the long run I can't help but think about my kids and other kids missing the opportunity to go to JT. This is one teacher and there are many there who have my (our) kids best interest at heart.

I will absolutely speak to other parents who may have similar concerns as I do that these actions will shut JT down. Hopefully they will write. It took me many days to finally speak up for fear of being verbally attacked for having such a different opinion. But each passing day I am feeling more and more concerned that those who are so angry will throw out the baby with the bath water.

July 2, 2017

OKJTparent: There no doubt are many parents and audience members who are willing to excuse JT for its tardiness in dealing with von Metzke, as well as its loose culture. Many people no doubt don't believe stories about the culture.But i think most people feel that some change is necessary at JT. Best, Don Bauder

July 3, 2017

In the foregoing posts I have heard about the involvement (or lack of it) by the mayor, city attorney, and attorney general. What about the DA? All of this seems to me to be the sort of criminal behavior that should be investigated and prosecuted by her. But now that "her" is resigning, and her hand-picked successor will assume the post, shouldn't all these concerned parents and others start to feed Summer S that sort of stuff? Or have they written her off?

The parallels here to the Barton case and the Army and Navy Academy are many. He was, it was discovered later, accused of similar offenses and had negotiated a resignation from another such school years ago that buried any record of the real situation. But after the academy hired him, there were plenty of reports of his strange behavior. The police investigated him more than once and came up empty handed. Still, after he had been warned about any contact that might be seen as inappropriate, he was observed doing the very things he'd promised to avoid. Those were brought to the attention of the upper level administrators, and nothing was done.

When that case broke open and he was indicted, the previous head of the school, a retired army brigadier general named Bliss was gone. (I don't recall how that happened, but I suspect he resigned under a cloud.) He was soon replaced by a retired army major general whose name I don't remember.

The academy tries to claim that is acted as soon as it knew about Barton, but the truth is a far more bitter story. It now has the task of rebuilding its reputation and making parents think it can be trusted.

July 2, 2017

Visduh: Valenti's lengthy report has been turned over to law enforcement on several levels. I believe there have been sessions with some, but I can't confirm that at this point. Best, Don Bauder

July 3, 2017

Colleen McCoy: At this point, the analogy with a five-year-old is not relevant. Best, Don Bauder

July 3, 2017

Colleen McCoy: There are many conflicting opinions on JT operations, but there is no arguing about your point: parents must be diligent. Best, Don Bauder

July 3, 2017

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