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Von Metzke "groomed" underaged girls by texting

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 ...

June 25, 2017

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

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

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 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

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

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
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June 25, 2017
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