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Woman who says she was molested at Lawrence Academy in the ’90s holding public response event


SOMERVILLE — The Lawrence Academy alumna who says she was sexually molested by a school worker in the 1990s has organized a “public response event” for Thursday.

At the event in Somerville, Vanessa (Fadjo) Osage will call on school leaders to address concerns of “covering up child sexual abuse at the institution,” she said Wednesday.

Osage, who was 14 when she says she was molested by Peter Regis — the former groundskeeper at the private boarding school — has written emails to school officials about the event, inviting them to publicly address her concerns. Those concerns include:

* “Acknowledgment of the choice to knowingly employ a child molester, despite years of my pleading for the safety of new, incoming students.”

* “Compensation and financial settlement, commensurate with what I have endured — as well as my extraordinary efforts to protect young people at Lawrence Academy: $500,000 as personal injury.”

* “Willingness to participate in the pilot program, the Justice CORPS, which provides crucial oversight of human rights violations by strictly non-affiliated adults outside the school.”

The event will be hosted by a facilitator from the Boston area, and Osage will participate remotely from the West Coast.

School officials will not attend, according to a statement from Lawrence Academy on Wednesday.

“From the message calling on representatives of the school to attend the event, it is our understanding that its purpose is to pressure the School to change its response to and valuation of the former student’s claims,” reads the school’s statement. “As we have said publicly, we have carefully and respectfully considered each request from this alumna and responded in ways that we believe are reasonable and appropriate.”

The school has taken direct action on this matter over the years, according to the statement. When school officials first became aware of the misconduct, the student and her family were notified, and the school reported the incident to the state agency overseeing child welfare at that time. The school also granted the alumna’s request to address a full school assembly over the incident, and more recently participated in a restorative justice process.

“Unfortunately, communications with this alumna have become increasingly less constructive and the proposals she has generated have become less reasonable,” reads the statement. “We do not feel the circumstances around the proposed event on August 16th demonstrate good faith that would lead to a productive result.”

In May, The Sun reported that Osage alleges Regis sexually molested her in the 1990s. Regis, 39 at the time of the alleged incidents, worked at the school for seven years after she reported the molestation incidents in his shop under the dorm, she said.

Osage is speaking out now in the wake of Lawrence Academy asking people to come forward if they have any information about past or current sexual misconduct. Osage said she wants a $500,000 settlement from the school for losses and damages, and for the school to accept legal liability for all crimes committed on campus.

In a statement to The Sun in May, Head of School Dan Scheibe wrote, “Had the same set of circumstances presented themselves today, there is no question that we would have immediately terminated the staff member from employment at the school.”

The school countered her proposal with a $25,000 offer; she would have to sign a confidentiality agreement, and the school would not admit legal liability. Osage presented additional documents about the abuse; the school came back with a $75,000 offer with the same confidentiality and release of legal claims.

“The alumna has made financial requests of the school, and we have carefully and respectfully considered them,” Scheibe said in a statement. “In each instance, we responded with an offer that we sincerely believed was reasonable and appropriate. It is fair to say, however, that the school is not in full agreement with several of the alumna’s claims and statements.”

Since Lawrence Academy told the school community about the allegations in May, the school has received a new report alleging misconduct by Regis. As a result of this new report, the school has engaged Sanghavi Law Office to perform an independent investigation into reports or allegations involving Regis. The school is encouraging participation from the community.

Some of Osage’s former classmates have recently reached out to the school, expressing outrage about how they’ve handled the situation.

Marguerite Bryant, for instance, wrote to the school: “Vanessa would have had a very different life if she hadn’t experienced this trauma at the hands of those meant to protect and educate her.”

Leah Jarkko, from the Class of 1997, wrote to school leaders: “Earn the trust of those children and families, of your staff by acknowledging wrongdoing and pledging to support to making positive change and rectifying mishandling of past administrations.”

The Thursday event open to the public is planned for 6 p.m. at the Green Room studio, 62 Bow St., Somerville.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun