Concerned2016: There are many questions that must be answered. Best, Don Bauder
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
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!
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
jennvalenti: The purpose of the report has always been to protect the children. Best, Don Bauder
EngineerBella: There are questions that I might get answers to tonight: What training to teachers get about sex with minors? Are they told they are in a position of trust and authority and therefore potentially more vulnerable if they cross the line? Was the general manager informed of the violations?
Frankly, I cannot see why a teacher should be allowed to date -- much less have sex with -- a student half his age. For a teacher, a student should be OFF LIMITS. Best, Don Bauder
Are you implying that JT couldn't afford to give their employees mandated reporter training? This is crucial training that anyone who cares about kids would support providing. There are many situations when those who serve kids need to call CPS. Just this summer a child at JT's summer camp came to class with marks on their body (not put their by JT). Nobody seemed to know what to do about it. Why?? Because they didn't have this training. Anyone who has received mandated reporter training would know immediately to call CPS in that situation.
At this training you will be told it is against the law NOT to report even if you just have a feeling that something is wrong. You do not need hard evidence of abuse. That work is left to CPS.
JT has a million dollar budget. How much could a 2 hour training possibly cost? If they can't find it in their budget to protect the kids they serve then what are they doing running this organization?
As Matt Valenti's complaint details, James Saba and the Board are responsible for the gross mismanagement of JT. That includes mismanaging their finances, employees and protecting the children they serve.
Probably because they think they have it all under control. If you've met any of them you'd know how delusional they are. They're probably having a toast and patting themselves on the back for how well they've handled the situation. In all seriousness, any real Board of Directors and ED would have had this PR nightmare addressed when it all started to unravel in January. Not JT, they like to keep things swept under the rug until it gets pulled out from under them.
Can someone please tell me why SDJT has NOT released any kind of statement condemning the actions of their former teacher and director? Damage control? Reassurances that they will be vigilant and more responsible? If not for the public, but for the current students? It sounds careless not to. Ignoring the facts does not make a secure environment
Looking carefully at the sentencing memorandum it reads that the victim of Von Metzke's abuse reached out to a teaching artist at JT on November 3rd. Jane Doe confides in the teacher about what occurred with Von Metzke. the teacher's response? "I can't know this information. What you did with that teacher is a crime. If it comes out that I knew and didn't report it I will be in trouble. Just stop texting me." The teacher kept this information to herself and did not report it to JT's interim education director until January once the girl's parents were involved.
You state that the teaching staff handled this situation correctly? As you can see from her text the teacher was not concerned with the welfare of the child. Her main concern was keeping herself out of trouble.
REY: As in any case like this, people are popping up on both sides. I think facttroll will see things differently when he reads the Sunday piece, which is immediately above. Best, Don Bauder
Thank you, Don, for writing this. Up until this last fall, my child had been with JT for several years. I was extremely supportive of them, and actively promoted their classes, camps and shows to any families I know. After the scandal of the firings in the fall, I stopped suggesting them. After your previous article about Matt's report, I actively told people not to have anything to do with them. Now, after this, I feel I should apologize to any family I have recommended JT to.
A month or so ago, we were speaking to my child's pediatrician, and discussing how everything that's happened has caused stress. When they asked which theatre, they were shocked to find out it was JT. They had just taken their kids to see a show there, and were heavily considering enrolling in some classes. Both my child and I were emphatic about saying that their children were best as far away as possible from JT, with everything going on. It hurt to say, but we could not, in good conscience, let anyone think that this is a safe environment for their children.
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!