Accusations fly over SJ high school's handling of sexual abuse allegations

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A 1991 graduate of San Jose's Presentation High School has created a firestorm over how her complaint of alleged sexual abuse was handled when she was a teenager.

Kathryn Leehane says other classmates are stepping forward after she detailed her case last month in the Washington Post. At least three of the graduates say the same male teacher was their abuser.

Ms. Leehane was one of two alumnae who appeared before reporters today to criticize the high school's administration at the San Jose office of attorney Robert Allard. "Tragically, I was not his first or his last victim," said Leehane.

In her opinion, she does not believe the school's leadership ever took action against the teacher. She says the Spanish teacher groped her and showed her a photo of a naked woman.

Another woman, Cheryl Hodgin Marshall, says another Presentation student confided in her that the same teacher had molested her. Together, the two said they tried to report it three times to administration, but the principal did not appear to take action. Hodgin Marshall said, "Not only did we not get any help, she dismissed both of us with stern warnings to be careful about what we say."

Allard is demanding the school's board of directors acknowledge wrongdoing, issue a public apology and take seriously its legal requirement to report abuse.

The school principal's response says, in part, "for anyone to suggest that PHS has in any manner covered up or condoned any instance of sexual abuse is an outright lie."

"PHS conducted an investigation more than 25 years ago into this matter as well as other claims made today. There is no new information."

A petition is demanding an investigation into all allegations of abuse over the 20 year tenure of the teacher.
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.