Earlier this week Marlborough School for Girls Head of School Dr. Priscilla Sands sent a message to the school community including current parents and alumnae announcing settlements with two former students who were victims of sexual abuse by former teacher Joseph Koetters. According to sources at the school, the message was forwarded to the Los Angeles Times which reported on the closure of the cases against the school this week.
“The settlement, whose terms are confidential, came just before the case was set to go to trial and one month after the school settled with Chelsea Burkett, 33, who also was sexually abused by Koetters when she was a teenager. The women sued Marlborough for failing to protect them from sexual abuse,” reported the Times.
Below is the message Marlborough shared with the Buzz:
Dear Members of the Marlborough Community,
I am writing to let you know that Marlborough has reached settlement agreements with both of our alumnae plaintiffs in connection with Joseph Koetters’s crimes against them in the early 2000s. This includes the settlement with our alumna Chelsea Burkett, which we reached in early October. The terms of both settlements are confidential.
We deeply regret and apologize for all that happened to both women as students. We will be forever grateful to our alumnae for their bravery in coming forward, and truly believe Marlborough is a better environment today because of what we have learned through this process.
This litigation may be behind us, but our work is far from over. I pledge that transparency and advocacy for our students will remain our priorities, and, along with our dedicated faculty and staff, commit each day to the healthy development of the wonderful young women entrusted to our care.
Dr. Priscilla Sands
Head of School
Joseph Koetters plead guilty to four criminal counts and agreed to register as a sex offender and complete at least one year of sex offender therapy. In addition, he was placed on five years of probation, during which he is barred from teaching or being with any female minor under the age of 18, except his daughter. Koetters began serving his prison sentence in November 2015 and was released in May 2016 after serving six months earning time off as permitted by California law.
Koetters worked at Marlborough School for more than a decade and then briefly at Polytechnic School in Pasadena. The sex abuse allegations first became public in July 2014 when a former Marlborough student wrote an essay in the online magazine XoJane about a former high school teacher who make inappropriate sexual advances toward her. Buzzfeed broke the story when it named Koetters as the teacher.
The saga shook the community and ended the tenure of former head of school Barbara Wagner who had led the school for more than 25 years.
This post was updated November 15, 2017. The email from Dr. Sands was sent to current parents and alumnae, not students.