ROSS TOWNSHIP, Pa.,None - In the wake of the Penn State University child sex abuse scandal, a former student at a local high school has now come forward, claiming she, too, was the victim of abuse.
The woman is now in her 30s and is a teacher herself. She claims that she was molested by a teacher at Vincentian High School, saying she went to the police then, but no one would do anything about it.
Target 11 investigator Rick Earle spoke to police, the school and the woman making the allegations.
I met with the woman on Thursday, Earle said. She's lived with this for 17 years. She described a horrifying pattern of abuse and cries for help that she said went unanswered.
"There was a room in the library that had no windows and she closed and locked the door, and that was the first time she completely assaulted me," the woman said. "I guess she basically raped me there."
It was 1994, and she was a 17-year-old senior at Vincentian Academy in McCandless when she claims a teacher she had turned to for help began molesting her in school.
Target 11 is not naming the accused teacher because she was never charged, and there have been no lawsuits filed. Earle did learn that she taught at Vincentian for 20 years.
"This continued to the end of the school year, almost three times a day… in the morning, at lunch time. I never went to lunch anymore," the woman said.
She said the abuse happened every day for five months. After graduation, the woman said she got the courage to go to McCandless police. Several days later, she said police called her grandmother.
This is what they told her:
"'We really don't believe this would be a good idea to proceed forward with this,'" the woman said police told her grandmother. "You have to understand that this would have devastating consequence for your granddaughter.'"
For 17 long years, she remained silent until writing a letter to colleagues at the school where she now teaches, stating, "I have had to come to terms with the fact that I will never receive justice for what happened to me."
Her colleagues, who are required to report suspected abuse, immediately alerted McCandless police, the child abuse hotline, the Department of Education and Vincentian Academy.
A spokeswoman for Vincentian immediately reported the information to the required agencies and launched an internal investigation. They also said the teacher in question was not rehired after the 1994 school year.
The principal in 1994 is still the principal now. She was recently granted a leave of absence after the allegations surfaced.
"There is no evidence at all that the principal knew of any allegations. However, in accordance with our policy, she was given the opportunity to take a leave of absence," said Diane Curtis.
McCandless police tell Target 11 they are still gathering details but said they investigated in 1994 and determined it was a consensual relationship and closed the case.
The alleged victim said it was never consensual.
"She was the type of teacher who was feared and respected by all students, so I understand now that she manipulated me very well," the woman said. "As an abused 17-year-old girl, I tried to do what I could to cry out for help, but nobody listened at the time, but now they are."
Both McCandless police and the district attorney said the statute of limitations has long since expired, and there's nothing they can do now.
The woman said she's considering a civil lawsuit.