New Particulars of Alleged Sexual Misconduct by a Instructor in Late ’90s Beg the Query: Are Bay Space Faculties Doing Any Higher Now?

As police investigated explosive rumors a couple of Bay Space educator allegedly having intercourse with a number of college students in 1998, they had been handed a letter by which he described a pupil as “attractive and enticing.”

“I’ve informed you the way I really feel about you and what I like,” wrote bodily schooling trainer Anthony Sylvestri to a pupil at Capuchino Excessive College in San Bruno.

“I’ll tease you somewhat bit and also you tease me typically however I feel that’s alright.”

The letter constructed upon different proof police and directors compiled as they investigated whether or not Sylvestri had been inappropriate with ladies on the faculty. They heard allegations that he had peppered a number of college students with private cellphone calls, kissed the lady he wrote the letter to, and made a number of feedback to ladies concerning the dimension of their breasts, their weight and their total appearances.

San Bruno Police, of their report back to the district lawyer on the time, stated no crime had been dedicated, that rumors he had intercourse with 12 college students had been simply rumors, and that these interactions that Sylvestri did have with ladies had been “agreed upon by each events.” Sylvestri was allowed to resign and obtain a semester’s pay, and the administration agreed to not inform inquiring potential employers why he had left the varsity in San Mateo County.

In a handwritten observe, then-Capuchino Excessive College trainer Anthony Sylvestri informed a feminine pupil he discovered her “attractive and enticing.” | The Customary

Sylvestri was employed in 1999 by Aptos Center College in San Francisco, the place, 20 years later, directors would hear claims from college students that he made them uncomfortable by calling them pet names, leering at them and touching them for no clear motive. 

In the course of the course of the San Francisco faculty district’s investigation into allegations in opposition to Sylvestri, a former Capuchino pupil submitted a declaration that the trainer had kissed her on the mouth and groped her breasts and physique at the very least 3 times throughout her senior yr, The Customary reported.

After two investigations by San Francisco faculty officers, he was in the end allowed to resign from Aptos in 2019 in lieu of dealing with disciplinary hearings. 

In complete, it took 4 rounds of pupil complaints and administrative investigations, in two faculty districts, over 20 years, for Sylvestri to lastly lose his instructing credential in 2021. 

There was no proof he was ever charged in associated prison circumstances. Sylvestri didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark. 

Sylvestri was one in all 19 workers accused of sexual misconduct whom San Francisco faculties have allowed to signal resignation agreements since 2017, The Customary revealed final month.

Regardless of dramatic adjustments in legislation and coverage since 1998, consultants, attorneys and advocates specializing in sexual misconduct in opposition to college students informed The Customary that these anachronistic attitudes and behaviors persist in right now’s public faculty methods and legislation enforcement businesses. 

They stated that faculty directors typically stay protecting of academics, could be loath to search out college students credible and are at instances keen to guard themselves from damaging publicity.

Commenting on the dealing with of Sylvestri’s circumstances, Lauren Palumbo, spokesperson for the Nationwide Sexual Violence Useful resource Heart stated: “In the event you informed me they had been from the previous yr, that might be plausible to me.”

Sandra Hodgin, a marketing consultant to colleges and legislation companies on pupil harassment points, reviewed the San Bruno police and college information at The Customary’s request. 

“Taking a look at this Nineteen Nineties case, and circumstances right now, the circumstances are so just like what I see frequently,” she stated of the paperwork, which had been obtained by way of a public information request.

‘Skepticism All through’

Police and the varsity district in San Bruno concluded that a lot of the college students’ claims about Sylvestri within the Nineteen Nineties weren’t true. They discovered that some rumors had been partially motivated by conflicts between ladies on the faculty who might have thought of the trainer, then in his late 20s, cute. And college students’ tales shifted at instances.

Nonetheless, paperwork associated to the San Bruno investigation into allegations in 1998, and one other earlier San Bruno faculty investigation into rumors about Sylvestri in 1996, recommend that the varsity officers and police can also have ignored or downplayed severe warning indicators.

In 1996, faculty officers discovered Sylvestri had made calls to 4 ladies and tried to satisfy up with them outdoors of faculty. They concluded that Sylvestri “had used some poor judgment, however no improprieties had taken place.”

College officers “warned him that any social contact or suggestive habits in direction of college students was completely unacceptable and that he should exit of his approach to stop rumors from getting began,” in response to a letter from the varsity’s principal to the assistant district superintendent.

Sylvestri denied any improprieties with feminine college students and agreed to be extra cautious sooner or later, the letter famous.

Two years later, throughout the second investigation, the police obtained concerned. Of their 1998 report, they wrote that Sylvestri admitted to kissing a woman, however “solely in a pleasant manner.” 

Even after police obtained the letter, which Sylvestri later admitted to writing, they concluded that it “didn’t have any sexual content material.”

Neither the San Mateo Union Excessive College District nor the San Bruno Police Division responded to request for remark. 

San Mateo Union Excessive College District headquarters | Google Avenue View

“That skepticism that’s all through this file, of the ladies saying there have been 12 college students he slept with—I feel right now we’re far much less skeptical. We’ve seen fairly a historical past of predatory academics and different faculty workers,” Brett Sokolow, a Los Angeles marketing consultant who advises faculties on anti-harassment insurance policies, stated, talking typically. “There’s a skepticism which means you’re not going to take the investigation so far as you would possibly in any other case, [that] if we pursue this it could break the popularity of a useful member of our neighborhood.”

Consultants say that even after the sexual assault convictions of Invoice Cosby and Harvey Weinstein and the rise of the #MeToo motion, faculties nonetheless have an extended approach to go.

Emma Grasso Levine, a supervisor with the Advocates for Youth nonprofit, nonetheless sees establishments prioritizing legal responsibility and popularity over the considerations and well-being of scholars who’ve skilled sexual harassment and assault. That features sufferer blaming, minimizing allegations and failing to think about energy dynamics.

“It makes it simpler for adults to reduce or conceal the very fact,” she stated, “versus participating in a significant accountability course of.”

There have been substantial adjustments within the legislation since 1998. California legal guidelines have been amended to deal with sexual harassment of kids. The federal Division of Schooling started issuing revised pointers on stopping sexual harassment throughout that point interval.

And right now, “we all know what concentrating on and grooming appear like. I feel there’s much more willingness to imagine the rumors, to imagine college students. We now have extra refined investigations,” stated Sokolow.

However, Billie-Jo Grant, a member of the board of administrators of Cease Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation, stated some directors’ attitudes lag behind the instances.

 “Many nonetheless imagine it is going to by
no means occur on their campus,” she stated.

Matthew Kupfer could be reached at [email protected]
Ida Mojadad could be reached at [email protected]