This article by Wright and Aratani addresses the problem of background controls and the need for exchange organization to take their exchange students seriously when they complain. Finally, exchange organizations (sponsors) had to keep a record on sexual abuse cases. Sometimes they do, but often they don’t. The entire article can be read at:
By Robin Wright and Lori Aratani | August 12, 2005
Andrew Powers of Germantown admitted to sex offenses. (Montgomery Co. Police Dept. – Montgomery Co. Police Dept.) Yet the rules could not have prevented three cases of abuse now in the courts.
Gaithersburg High School biology teacher Andrew Powers sneaked into the bedroom of the 17-year-old German girl living with his family in the middle of the night last December and tried to get her to perform oral sex, according to a police affidavit. When his wife wasn’t home, Powers also “frequently” roamed the house naked in front of the student, the affidavit adds. Powers, who has resigned, is to be sentenced next week after pleading guilty to second-degree assault and fourth-degree sexual offenses. His attorney declined to comment.
The host father of a 16-year-old German girl in Plainwell, Mich., was charged in April with installing hidden cameras in her bedroom, first under her blankets, then in a dollhouse, to capture her naked. Dale Lacoss will be sentenced this month after pleading guilty to distributing the image of an unclothed person and possession of child sexually abusive material.
And this week, the coordinator for foreign exchange students in Sherwood, Ark., was charged with first-degree sexual assault for rape of three male European exchange students over the past year. In one case, during his wife’s absence, Doyle Meyer Jr. held a slumber party for students, provided them with alcohol and then masturbated one of the minors against his will, according to the police affidavit. The student was reluctant to file charges until he heard about others Meyer allegedly molested.
Meyer could not be reached for comment.
Foreign students are among the most vulnerable minors because they usually do not know U.S. laws, are unfamiliar with customs, are dependent on host families or sponsors, don’t know what to do when abused or are afraid to act, according to Lt. Frank Baker of the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office, who has been involved in the Michigan case.
“For a predator, this is the ideal situation,” Baker said.
Frank Swiderski’s abuse of a 17-year-old Vietnamese exchange student was detected in 2003, when an Eastlake, Ohio, police officer lectured to the boy’s health class about sexual assault. The student asked if the practices by his host father — nude massages, fondling and forcing him to shave Swiderski’s pubic hair — were normal. … At Swiderski’s home, police found photos of nude boys — many of whom appeared to be exchange students and some pictured with the former high school teacher — that dated to the 1970s…
Most cases reported in recent years involve host parents or personnel with sponsoring agencies.
In March 2004, California social studies teacher Peter Ruzzo was sentenced to three years in prison for having sex with a 15-year-old German student living in his home. Ruzzo told the victim “when he saw her foreign-exchange photo that he considered it a challenge, even before she got here, to have sex with her,” …
The State Department decided that publishing the regulations was worthwhile even if they do not eliminate the problem. …
Some groups, such as Bethesda-based Youth for Understanding, have been doing background checks for years. YFU uses the Internet to do a name check of all host family members. But Reed Rago, YFU’s director of development, conceded that the system is not foolproof.
Because there is no database, “we’re going to make our best effort to find out one way or another,” he said. …
In 2003, David Goodhead of Riverside, Calif., pleaded guilty to abusing a 16-year-old Danish student living with him during a trip to Yosemite National Park. Goodhead was sentenced to 36 months’ probation and a $1,500 fine.
In July 2004, Rotary Club exchange student coordinator James Anthony Dillon was sentenced to 30 months’ probation, with 18 months’ home confinement with an electronic monitor and a $2,000 fine, for three acts of molestation of a 17-year-old European student. As in many cases eventually reported, an American third party went to authorities.