“Nor am I greatly moved by jocular inquiries such as, ‘Where will you put all the mosquitoes?’ — a question to be answered on its own level by pointing out that, if the worst came to worst, a heaven for mosquitoes and a hell for men could very conveniently be combined.” ― The Problem of Pain”
On January 1, 2020, North Carolina passed the SAFE (Sexual Assault Fast reporting and Enforcement) Child Act. This act has a two-year window. It allowed those who were sexually abused to sue their abuser. In other words, the statute of limitations was suspended for two years. The Asheville Citizen Times posted: Deadline nears for child sexual assault survivors in North Carolina to sue their abusers. This explains the issues surrounding the reports of child sexual abuse by focusing on Rachel Howald, who attended a Christian school.
It took Rachel Howald more than 30 years to report being sexually abused by a coach throughout her high school years at Ben Lippen School — the private, Christian school that once sat on Dryman Mountain in West Asheville.
When Howald, 50, publicly revealed her childhood horrors in a lawsuit this year, it was still considered rare, experts say. That is because research shows child sexual abuse survivors can take decades on average to report such crimes, and through strict statute of limitations, North Carolina gives child survivors only a handful of years to process the trauma and to take action.
This case caught my attention when Boz Tchividjian, the victim’s attorney, posted the following on Twitter.
He is referring to this article posted by the Asheville Citizen. Child sexual abuse lawsuit under NC SAFE Child Act settled against former Asheville school. I wish I could repost the picture at the top of the article, but I can’t. So, I suggest you go to the link and see it yourself.
As I stared at the picture, it became evident that Rachel was molested by her female teacher at this Christian school. Rachel Howard is 51 years old. She sued the Ben Lippen school under the NC law. Here is the history of the school, which is now located in South Carolina.
A Scottish phrase meaning “Mountain of Trust,” Ben Lippen School was founded in 1940 by the Columbia International University (CIU) board of trustees under the guidance of CIU’s first president, Robert C. McQuilkin. The evangelical boarding school for boys was located at CIU’s Ben Lippen Conference Center on a mountain near Asheville, NC. The school became co-educational in 1952 and flourished as a school for missionary children. After a fire destroyed the main building in 1980, Ben Lippen moved its high school program to its current location in Columbia, South Carolina, in 1988 to be on the campus of CIU. An elementary program was begun in 1990 and currently boasts two campuses, one at the Monticello Road location and another on St. Andrews Road in Columbia. All upper school students attend the Monticello Road campus.
Today Ben Lippen School has more than 900 students in grades Pre-K3 through 12, with approximately 80 of them being international students who live on campus and attend our high school.
It is both a boarding and day school. For a bit of trivia (I spend too much time reading bios, etc.) Tullian Tchividjian attended Columbia International University. Billy Graham and his family live outside Asheville, so it was close by. Back to the story!
According to the Citizen Times:
Howald, who now lives in the New York City area, claimed that former Ben Lippen teacher and coach Pamela Kaye Herrington sexually assaulted her repeatedly from 1986-88 when Howald was 16 and 17 years old and that the school provided multiple opportunities for the teacher to victimize her.
…The assaults took place in dormitories and Herrington’s campus apartment, in school vehicles used for transporting student-athletes, at school athletic events off-campus, in hotel rooms during travel for sports, and in Howald’s own home, according to the suit. Howald’s family lived near Asheville, and she attended Ben Lippen as a day student, although most of the students were boarders.
…Howald sought a jury trial to award compensatory damages and punitive damages for the “severe physical and mental injuries arising from the sexual assaults/batteries” she suffered from Herrington.
Ben Lippen School-Hang your heads and repent for using the “legal age of consent” argument.
In its initial response filed March 31, 2021, Ben Lippen School denied all charges brought by Howald in 43 separate defenses, claiming in part that Howald herself was to blame for the alleged assaults and that the school, being grounded in a Christian tradition, prevented teachers from sexually abusing minors.
These defenses include that Howald was 16 years old when she first met Herrington, and therefore “had attained the legal age of consent prior to the alleged occurrence of the allegations set forth” in the lawsuit and “consented to all of the allegations,” and that Howald “created and/or caused all of the allegations she brought forth.”
The school also claimed that all faculty members were required “to confirm full acceptance and agreement with the School’s Statement of Faith, which included Christian principles of doctrine and practice,” and that the school “prohibited all faculty and students from engaging in homosexual acts, pre-marital sexual relations, and abuse of any kind, including sexual abuse, toward a minor child.”
This has to be the most perverse and addled argument in this age of #MeToo. Most of the country is well aware of the unequal power differential between a teen and her coach. The school then claimed that Howald as well as her coach did it (sexual contact) “against” policy, so it wasn’t Ben Lippen’s fault. Yep-those policies sure did a lot to protect the students.
The school even claimed that the “lookback law” was unconstitutional. Their lawyers tried throwing everything they had at the wall to see what stuck. They ended up looking at a whole pile of nothing even though they wouldn’t admit it. Remember, Boz was Howald’s lawyer. His name should strike fear into the hearts of those who don’t do what is right in matters of sexual abuse.
Here is a comment on this school on Yahoo Life. Is this what Ben Lippen administrators and lawyers thought was a good witness for Jesus?
The inevitable settlement with an NDA occurred.
Under the settlement, in which the details will remain sealed, the case against the school is resolved, but the suit against Herrington continues.
“The latest developments in my case have certainly been unexpected and a welcome step in the healing process. But it’s just that – another step in what is essentially a lifelong process for any sexual abuse survivor,” Howald said in an email to the Citizen Times.
“Litigation is a tool for changing the future for others, it’s not a magic wand that wipes away the past. While the case against the school is settled, the trauma that comes from being sexually abused will never go away. I always live with the effects.”
The alleged predator-abuser Pamela Kaye Herrington is being sued as well!
Dee is so glad to hear about this suit against the former coach.
but the suit against Herrington continues.
I hope Rachel Howald gets a massive settlement from Herrington. Justice is served, a little late, but still done! In the meantime, I believe that there should be no statute of limitations for those under the age of 18 who have been sexually abused. It is now understood that children and teens who are abused often are unable to speak about it for decades. Laws should reflect an understanding of the psychology behind the effects of sexual abuse on young people. As Jean Luc would say “Make it so.”