|Third victim reports sexual abuse|
|Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer|
|Saturday, 03 November 2012 09:28|
ROSSFORD - A third victim has come forward after the filing of a lawsuit against a former Rossford and Toledo high school teacher accused of sexual abuse in the 1970s.
In a lawsuit filed in Lucas County Court of Common Pleas Thursday, Harold "Jerry" Mash, 68, now of Chicago, is being sued for $25,000 in damages for molesting Roland Tremp, 48, of Mason, and an unnamed John Doe living in Wood County.
Mash, according to the lawsuit, is accused of molesting Tremp in 1978 at the age of 14, and of molesting the other plaintiff in 1974 and 1975 when he was 14 and 15 years old.
The lawyer for the two men, Konrad Kircher of the law firm of Kircher, Arnold and Dame in Mason, confirmed Friday afternoon that he "was contacted this morning by another victim" who also claims he was molested by Mash in the Toledo area in the early 1970s.
"Mash got to know this boy through the Big Brothers organization," he said, adding that this third alleged victim "was a vulnerable child, I can tell you that."
Mash was reportedly forced to resign from Toledo Public Schools after teaching there for six years in the 1970s, according to a recent story in the Chicago Tribune. Mash then taught for less than two years in Rossford before he was suspected of abuse involving the John Doe cited in the lawsuit.
"John Doe, who's the second plaintiff, did pursue criminal charges, or his parents did on his behalf, when he was a child, and Jerry Mash got six months suspended sentence, which is a joke," said Kircher. That 1976 case, he said, renders Mash unable to be criminally tried in the John Doe incident again due to double jeopardy.
Mash, according to the Chicago Tribune, has been teaching in that city for the last 22 years and currently holds an administrative position at a high school. He has been removed from contact with students while the school system does its own investigations.
Tremp's own molestation jumped to the forefront of his mind after revelations about Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant Penn State football coach who was convicted of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year period, came to light.
"What prompted me was seeing the brave kids from the Jerry Sandusky trial. And we, my wife and I, decided to do some checking into Jerry Mash to see if he's still around. So we did some interviewing and found that he's still teaching at the Chicago Public Schools."
This revelation sparked lengthy and labyrinthine research led largely by Tremp's wife, Julie. They were initially told by the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office that the criminal statute of limitations was up on Tremp's case. But, not dissuaded, the pair continued searching. Further digging, and the help of a Toledo police officer, turned up the 1976 John Doe case "and we just took it from there."
The pair also received help from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, though Mash was not a clergyman. They were also able to turn up divorce records for Mash, enabling them to track his movements into Iowa - where he reportedly attempted chiropractic school - Georgia and Chicago.
Mash had two assault convictions in Iowa, they said.
Additional research with teachers' organizations yielded further information.
Kircher noted that a lawsuit was filed because "with Ron, the criminal statute of limitations has expired. So the only way that he has to hold Mash accountable in a court of law is in a civil case. But also, look what happened yesterday. Mash was placed on leave (in Chicago) and that would not have happened but for a lawsuit. If we had written a letter to the Chicago School District it probably would have sat on someone's desk for a couple weeks."
Betty Jean Anderson, Bowling Green, a friend of Tremp's with knowledge of the case, taught with Mash at DeVilbiss High School in Toledo.
"No, I never would have suspected it," she said of Mash. "I knew Jerry as a teacher, I was over at their house one time, when they lived in an apartment, before the kids came, for a New Year's Eve party. Never in a million years."
"It has really stirred a lot of talk with the particularly older teachers that might have been in the area," she said later.
The lawsuit alleges that "for decades (Mash) has held teaching and administrative positions in education, and has served in many other roles with authority over children, such as swimming coach, Boy Scout leader and supervisor of many other extracurricular activities. All of these roles were intended by (Mash) to provide him with access to children he could sexually abuse and exploit."
With that in mind, perhaps the most troubling aspect of the case is this: How could Mash have gone undetected for so long, and still get a teaching position decades after a molestation conviction, even a misdemeanor?
"We're still trying to figure that out," said Tremp. "We can't figure out how he fell through the cracks."
However, he said that "what I heard is when they did the background checks, they didn't do any out-of-state, they just did in-state background checks." And, prior to the 1990s, such checks would only turn up felony convictions, not misdemeanors.
Anderson said that at the time Mash likely was asked to leave the Toledo schools with a recommendation, "and I'm sure that's how Jerry went from Toledo to Rossford."
"They hired him with a clean record because nothing showed up."
"As teachers, when you see someone do this to students it's so horrible," Anderson said. "Parents send us their children, their most precious possessions, and they don't expect anything bad to happen to them. And 99.9 percent of the teachers are wonderful and caring. And for these few you have got to get them out."
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