Curtis Institute Engages Third Party for Abuse Hotline

August 14, 2019, 11:38 PM · The Curtis Institute of Music has hired a third party called Lighthouse Services to provide a toll-free hotline for its community members to report past or present misconduct at the school. "The purpose of this service is to ensure that any community member wishing to make a report of misconduct can do so in a safe space, without fear of reprisal," said Curtis President and CEO Roberto Díaz in an email to Curtis alumni, students and parents Wednesday (the full email, which includes the hotline number, is posted below.)

Curtis has struggled for weeks to respond to an extensive article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on July 24 that made public detailed allegations of sexual abuse by the late violinist Jascha Brodsky. Brodsky taught at Curtis from the 1950s until shortly before his death in 1997. The most serious allegations of abuse were described by well-known violinist Lara St. John.

Curtis Institute

Curtis's first response was to issue an e-mail instructing its alumni, students and parents not to speak to journalists about the story. After a great deal of outcry from the Curtis community and beyond, Curtis President and CEO Roberto Díaz and Board Chair Deborah M. Fretz issued an apology that expressed regret over the school's initial response and promised the establishment of the hotline.

Here is the full text of the message sent to alumni, students and parents on Wednesday:

To the Curtis community:

As president and CEO of Curtis, I have a responsibility to ensure a healthy school culture in which our community members feel safe, supported, and heard when they voice concerns. Although we have existing channels for bringing reports of misconduct to our attention, we want to underscore our commitment to this responsibility and announce the launch of a new, additional reporting channel.

Effective August 9, 2019, we have engaged Lighthouse Services, Inc. to provide all Curtis community members with access to a hotline for reporting misconduct from the past or present. The purpose of this service is to ensure that any community member wishing to make a report of misconduct can do so in a safe space, without fear of reprisal.

Since 2003, Lighthouse Services has specialized in providing independent third-party hotline services to organizations of all types and sizes, including non-profits, institutions of higher education, K–12 schools, and youth services organizations. Lighthouse serves a roster of more than 3,000 clients with a reporting network covering over 2 million users.

To ensure maximum accessibility, Lighthouse Services provides a toll-free number, along with several other reporting methods detailed below, all of which are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for use by Curtis community members. Concerns may be reported in any one of the following ways:

Website: www.lighthouse-services.com/Curtis

Telephone:
English-speaking USA and Canada: (833) 700-0026
Spanish-speaking USA and Canada: (800) 216-1288
Spanish-speaking Mexico: 01-800-681-5340
French-speaking Canada: (855) 725-0002
E-mail: reports@lighthouse-services.com (If using this method, Curtis’s name must be included within the report.)

Fax: (215) 689-3885 (If using this method, Curtis's name must be included within the report.)

Website and e-mail reporting are available to anyone around the world, and Lighthouse staff are trained to receive reports in 39 different languages. Additional information about the hotline may be found in the Procedures document. Information about student safety and misconduct prevention protocols may be found here. Information about counseling and other student support services may be found here.

We will take every report made to the hotline seriously. The reports will be reviewed and investigated and, if the circumstances warrant, we will bring in an outside investigator to conduct an investigation.

If a community member does not wish to make a report to the hotline, but would like to speak to someone at Curtis, he or she may reach out to me, Senior Director of Human Resources Patricia Lombardo, or Associate Dean of Student and Academic Affairs Nicholas Lewis. We are all here to listen. I can be reached at (215) 717-3107, Patricia can be reached at (215) 717-3133, and Nicholas can be reached at (215) 717-3160.

Regards,
Roberto Díaz
President and CEO

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Replies

August 15, 2019 at 11:49 AM · Sounds like a reasonable move.

August 15, 2019 at 07:15 PM · Laurie, would you consider asking Patricia Lombardo, on behalf of V.com's members, whether or not they have reached out to Lara St John and offered an apology for their outright insensitive handling of this issue ever since the publication of the Enquirer story and if not why not?

August 18, 2019 at 02:28 AM · “We will take every report made to the hotline seriously. The reports will be reviewed and investigated and, if the circumstances warrant, we will bring in an outside investigator to conduct an investigation.” – Roberto Díaz, President and CEO of The Curtis Institute, August 14, 2019

From the beginning of this debacle, Mr. Díaz’ tone has been a deaf one. His most recent volley seems as careless and irresponsible as the first. Hiring an outside contractor to handle a hotline of abuse is not enough; an 800 number is not the solution that he doubtless hopes will once again sweep the filth under the rug. In his most recent letter to the Curtis community announcing this service, the language used is confounding. If read carefully, it is difficult to consider the sincerity of he and the school’s efforts to combat this endemic plague.

Who decides “..if the circumstances warrant…?” Is it Roberto and Curtis’ bevy of lawyers?

Curtis’ PR department has failed Mr. Díaz once again in allowing a letter with such sloppy syntax and careless wording to be put forth as an official document.

~ Eduard Laurel

August 21, 2019 at 07:42 PM · Let's hope that modern technology and better school administration transparency will help deter more attacks like the one Lara St. John reported -- and get to the bottom of those that have happened. In this day, any organization ought to have clearly spelled out in writing what behaviors will not be tolerated -- and made sure that all personnel have read and agreed to adhere to these policies.

I saw and heard online presentations in the past week, dealing with this issue in school, workplace, and military settings. The big takeaway I got from subject matter experts and former victims:

Report these incidents ASAP. It's uncomfortable, and you may not be believed -- at least in the beginning. But do it. With actual assault, get the police involved. Preserve as much evidence as you can. Secure anything that might have fingerprints or DNA on it. This was crucial in nailing the Vanderbilt football players -- and clearing the Duke lacrosse players.

"If you see something, SAY something." I'm not about to blame the victims for the assaults they suffered. The victims who lose my respect, though, are the ones who don't report because they're afraid they won't be believed -- or they're afraid they'll lose their jobs or scholarships, get kicked out of school, or get booted out of the military. If I were in their shoes, I'd rather risk getting booted out for reporting than live with the knowledge that I could have helped nail a predator and prevented more attacks -- but decided to keep quiet.

One video I came across struck me as especially noteworthy: Avoiding Attackers: Tips for Women. I don't know these people and hadn't heard of them before. What they say makes very good sense to me. Run time: 17:33.

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