In 2015, Joseph Thomas Koetters was sentenced for sexually abusing two underage girls while he taught at Marlborough School. As a past student of Koetters, Chloe Safier reflects on how the teacher can continued work even with formal complaints filed against him.
" I don’t think the school was part of a nefarious plot. Why did they ignore Koetters’ behavior? Was it a combination of indifference, ambivalence, assumptions about teenage girls’ proclivity for drama, and fear of getting into a lawsuit? Regardless, by ignoring allegations from students over the years, the school sent a message to young women: sit down, shut up, and suffer male entitlement. "
Safier makes a compelling argument on how institutional powers made sexual abuse possible in this situation. The dismissal of allegations by those in power allowed Koetters to continue his behavior. Safier states that "Koetters was carefully pushing at the edges of normal-seeming behavior to create an atmosphere in which his actions would go unseen and unreported."
This calculated approach was Koetters' intention and the reluctance of the institution to act made the situation worse. Safier calls attention to the need for discussion on topics of "power, abuse and consent" in order to understand how Koetters and other sexual predators behave. If you would like to read more on Chloe Safier's reflection click here or the title of this blog.