Dear Members of the Nishimachi Community,
I sent a letter in January to inform you of the results of an investigation undertaken by the U.S. law firm of McLane Middleton. The firm was retained by Nishimachi to investigate an allegation of sexual misconduct involving a former faculty member, which was brought forward last year by a former student who attended Nishimachi in the 1970’s.
McLane Middleton concluded that the allegation was well-founded; in fact, the former faculty member did not deny inappropriate behavior on his part during the course of the investigation.
At the time of my last letter, the School—at the request of the victim—had decided not to disclose the identity of the faculty member, who no longer works in education. A direct apology was made to the victim by the Chairman of our Board and myself. The former faculty member was barred from attending any future Nishimachi event. Schools where the former faculty member worked after he left Nishimachi were contacted, and informed about his misconduct.
However, we have since received community feedback that disclosing greater details about this teacher’s misconduct, including his name, could play a crucial role in encouraging any other possible victims to come forward. The school has also recently been provided additional information that could implicate this former faculty member in additional instances of misconduct.
Accordingly, the Board of Directors is taking the following steps:
1) Releasing to our community the report that McLane Middleton submitted to the Board, redacted only insofar as was necessary to protect the confidentiality of the victim. The link to the report can be found here.
2) Disclosing the teacher’s name: Jim Hawkins, who was a faculty member and/or administrator at Nishimachi from 1967 to 1980. As you will learn from the report, Mr. Hawkins repeatedly violated the boundaries of appropriate teacher – student relationships. His actions directed at the victim included: hugs, sending frequent letters and notes, “confiding” details such as the state of his marriage and other highly personal matters, slow-dancing, and gift giving. While no overtly sexual contact was alleged to have taken place, Mr. Hawkins’ behavior would be best described as “grooming” and was pervasive, inappropriate and upsetting to the victim.
3) Retaining a global law firm, Jenner & Block, to investigate any new allegations involving this former faculty member—or any faculty or staff member—that occurred at any time during the School’s history. Jenner & Block will also be reviewing the School’s historical responses with regard to allegations of sexual misconduct that were or may have been brought to its attention.
The investigation will be led by a Jenner & Block partner, Katya Jestin. Prior to joining Jenner & Block, Ms. Jestin was a sex crimes prosecutor at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office and thereafter handled criminal investigations and prosecutions at the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. She also has experience handling human trafficking and related cases involving extremely sensitive interviews and the representation of victims. Other team members are Emily Loeb, a partner with deep investigative experience attained both in the private sector and with the U.S. Department of Justice, and Lauren Hartz, an associate with substantial experience investigating sex-based discrimination and harassment claims.
Jenner has experience conducting highly sensitive investigations all over the world, and this work constitutes a significant part of its practice.
Jenner & Block’s global footprint will permit it to conduct all necessary interviews, including any that might need to take place in Japan. The firm has deep personal experience working with Japanese clients, and close relationships with large and small law firms in Japan. Several partners have lived and worked in Japan, and the firm has among its lawyers a Japanese bengoshi.
The Board has decided that, once the investigation is completed, Jenner & Block will prepare a report that will be shared with the Nishimachi community.
We strongly encourage victims, as well as any community members who have any information that would assist Jenner & Block in its work to contact the investigative team directly. If you wish to communicate in Japanese, a Japanese-speaking lawyer will be available to speak with you. The phone number where the investigative team can be reached is +1 (202) 661-4899 and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
4) The Board of Directors has directed me to develop a referral and reimbursement program for survivors who wish to obtain professional counseling. When this program is in place, details will be provided to alumni and made available on the School’s Student Protection page on our website.
The School deeply regrets—and apologizes for—harm suffered as a result of sexual misconduct on the part of an adult whom our students had every right to trust would keep them safe. We understand that the pain of such a fundamental betrayal runs deep, and it is our hope that counseling can provide support and healing.
We sincerely hope any graduate or student who may have been subjected to sexual misconduct by a faculty or staff member while attending Nishimachi—or members of our community at large who may have relevant information—will contact the Jenner & Block investigators—and we strongly encourage this.
If you have questions or concerns about the investigation or sexual misconduct, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I can assure you that anyone who chooses to come forward either to the Jenner & Block investigators, or to me will be treated with sensitivity and respect.
We recognize that we must remain ever vigilant and proactive in our efforts to keep our students safe. If you’d like to know more about our current policies and preventive measures, including best practices and enhanced training, please feel free to visit our Student Protection page on the website or to contact me directly via email: email@example.com.
Please follow these links to see each of the community announcements made by the school in relation to student protection matters:
Current School Year:
January 25, 2018
September 14, 2017
April 28, 2016
A list of the actions the school has taken in relation to student protection matters can be found on the School’s Student Protection website page.
A Japanese version of this letter can be found here.
Head of School
May 23, 2018