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Bend woman speaks out on decades-ago abuse


An elite, private elite American school in Japan has admitted to covering up sexual abuse cases decades ago involving a techer. Now, 40 years later,13 victims have received a settlement, and one of them, a Bend woman, is speaking out about what happened and its impact on her life.

“The summer after my seventh grade he took me to the island where he had his lab to do his research,” Jennifer Laurie, who was sexually abused by her science teacher, said Wednesday. “I went there with him alone, and that’s where he assaulted me.”

At the time, Laurie went to the American School in Japan.

The abuse changed her life forever.

“I have huge anxiety and depression issues,” Laurie said.

She did not tell her parents and suppressed the memory for many years. She was ashamed — and her teacher had her convinced that it was her fault.

“Of course, at that age, what do you do with that information. I assumed that, ‘Oh my gosh, you’ve must have done something wrong,'” Laurie said.

She had trusted her teacher, and so had her parents. Now she knows, that was part of her abuser’s plan.

“I think he picked up on insecurities that I had and made me trust him. He wrote me letters, he gave me gifts. He groomed me, basically,” Laurie said.

In her 20s, Laurie finally mustered the strength to tell her parents. Years later, she stumbled across a blog by another woman who was sexually abused by the same man. That’s when she found out there were 13 women who had been abused by him.

“That’s the first time it dawned on me: It’s not about me. I didn’t do something wrong. This man is sick,” Laurie said.

Before her abuser could be taken to court, he killed himself. He left a suicide note where he confessed everything.

“My name was on the letter, and it helped me that to know that at least he had admitted what he had done to me,” Laurie said.

Laurie found out that school officials knew about the teacher at the time. She said they had received numerous complaints about him, but did nothing with that information.

“What the abuser did (compared) to that, which is terrible of course, but then there is another layer of institutional betrayal,” Laurie said.

Now, 40 years later, the survivors finally found justice, winning a settlement.

“There are a lot of things that they did that really helped us find some closure and opened up that part for healing,” Laurie said.

The healing is a life-long process.

NewsChannel 21’s Wanda Moore asked Laurie what she would tell that 12-year-old girl, if she could go back in time.

“I would tell her: ‘You’re worth more than you think you are,'” Laurie said.

Laurie now wants to help others. She is working on creating a local child sex abuse survivor help group. If you are interested in joining you can email her at:

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