"REPORT REVEALS MYERS ABUSED MINORS"
DAILY HAMPSHIRE GAZETTE - By Pancho Gutstein - February 4, 2002
Stephen Myers, the former Amherst Regional High School principal who resigned Jan. 21 amid complaints he had made improper sexual overtures to a male student, admitted to police six years ago in Santa Cruz, Calif., that he had sexual relations with minors on two separate occasions, in 1980 and 1991, according to a report by Santa Cruz investigators.
The 97-page report obtained by the Gazette outlines two investigations, in 1994 and 1996, into Myers' alleged activities with young men and boys.
As a result of their investigation, California police and social service investigators in 1996 took custody of a 4-year-old boy Myers was in the process of adopting. The boy was placed in foster care and the adoption process was stopped.
Myers was not charged in connection with either investigation.
The report corroborates an investigation conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Social Services, following allegations that Myers asked a 15-year-old male Amherst High student to expose a nipple and invited him to his home. Myers has denied any wrongdoing.
However, the complaint led DSS on Jan. 23 to take custody of Myers' 9-year-old son, a boy he had adopted after moving to Colorado in 1999.
Myers, 56, resigned amid investigations by the Northwestern District Attorney's office and Amherst police. The investigations have spurred controversy, with some people calling it a "witch hunt" and others criticizing the Amherst school board's handling of the matter.
Matthew J. King, the lawyer representing Myers, has declined to comment on the DSS report and the Santa Cruz police investigation. He said today he had not seen the police report.
At Myers' Amherst home this morning, a woman who described herself as a friend of the former principal referred all questions concerning the matter to Myers' attorney.
Both the 1994 and 1996 investigations took place while Myers was director of the Traveling School International in Santa Cruz, a private school formerly known as the Global Youth Academy, which he founded in 1976. The school, which had about 40 students, took them on extended trips around the world, sometimes for months at a time.
Citing the report, Santa Cruz Police Sgt. Steve Clark, who heads the investigations unit and was involved in the Myers case, said Friday that investigators concluded Myers had sexually abused minors in both the 1980 and 1991 incidents.
Police worked with representatives from the state Child Protective Services department and the District Attorney's office on the investigation, he said.
Clark said police did not charge Myers in connection with either incident because in both cases they did not have cooperation of the victims. He said investigators closed the case when none of the victims wanted to press charges.
"We had enough information that he was indeed molesting boys," Clark said, "but we didn't have enough information to take it to court."
Adoption as impetus
According to the report, the 1996 investigation into Myers' activities began when a man describing himself as a "very close friend" of Myers told Santa Cruz police that Myers had "groped him over his clothing in the area of his genitals" while they were camping in Colorado in 1980. The complainant had been a teen-ager at the time; Myers was an adult.
The informant told police he was concerned because Myers was trying to adopt a boy and he felt Myers could possibly harm other children. He told police Myers had admitted to him his attraction to young men and boys and had said he had sexual relations with one boy in 1991 while on a trip out of the country, according to the report.
Police also investigated complaints "of suspicious and inappropriate conduct" by Myers in 1994 after people associated with the former Global Youth Academy raised concerns. These included photographs of boys in underwear or in Speedo bathing suits, taken as part of the school's "body-awareness" day.
The report also cites the statement of a female student who said she witnessed Myers wrestling with a seventh-grade male student who was wearing a G-string and frequently saw the male student sitting in Myers' lap.
During a subsequent interview with police in January 1996, according to the report, Myers admitted to the 1980 camping incident, describing it as follows: "My hand touched his penis. We were both fully clothed. I don't think it was a conscious act, and I wasn't fully awake."
Although Myers initially denied any sexual contact with other students or young men, following repeated questions by police, he admitted having sexual relations with a 15- or 16-year-old Global Youth Academy student while traveling in Mombasa, South Africa, in January 1991.
Myers said the incident took place in the room of a motel where a group of students was staying. He said he and the student began to massage each other and that led to mutual masturbation, according to the police report.
Myers also told police he formerly had an attraction to boys 14 to 16, but after undergoing counseling for about four years, "hasn't had the desire to have sex with a minor in a long time" and believed he was "cured," the report states.
But after continued questioning by police, Myers admitted he had recently slept in the same bed with one of his male students while staying with a group of students in Los Angeles. Myers denied having any sexual contact with the student.
Police also interviewed that student, who said Myers did not touch him while they were both in bed.
Detective Loran Baker, who filed the report, asked Myers why he had chosen to sleep with a student in light of the previous allegations against him. Myers maintained it was innocent, but said, "It was stupid."
Police also interviewed Myers' therapist, who told police Myers had made "a great deal of progress" in therapy and that he believed he was no longer a risk and was "fit to be a parent," the report states.
Santa Cruz police also sought to determine whether Myers had had any sexual contact with the 4-year-old Romanian boy he had planned to adopt and who had been living with Myers. Myers initiated adoption proceedings in 1995.
In addition to Myers, police interviewed a woman who had cared for the boy, and, along with social service personnel, the boy.
As a result of that investigation and previous interviews with Myers and others, police and child protection advocates recommended the boy be taken from the home and placed with a foster family.
Although the Myers' case was closed in January 1996, Santa Cruz police sought to reopen it in August after receiving additional information about possible abuse while the 4-year-old was in Myers' custody, according to the report.
Authorities decided not to press charges after the foster parents who were taking care of the boy relocated to another state and told police they did not want the boy interviewed.
Representatives from Child Protective Services in Santa Cruz could not be reached for comment.
Roy Nelson, superintendent of Santa Cruz city schools, said the district received no complaints about Myers while he served as an educator in the schools from 1981 to 1990.
According to Myers' resume, while heading the Traveling School, which convened only in the summer until 1984, Myers also served as principal of Bransiforte Junior High School and assistant principal of Soquel High School in Santa Cruz.
The Traveling School was offered as part of the district's school curriculum until it lost funding in 1990, when district officials raised concerns about liability, health risks and curriculum.
The school then became a private, year-round enterprise with Myers as its full-time director.
A statement released here Thursday by Northampton lawyer John Pucci, who is representing the family of the 15-year-old Amherst High student, includes part of a DSS report that cites statements by Myers admitting he was attracted to young boys and had had sexual relations with boys.
Pucci said the family decided to release a portion of the report to respond to those in the community who believe there is no merit to the complaint that Myers made improper comments to the 15-year-old boy at the center of the controversy.
Some have accused the family of conducting a "witch hunt" against Myers, Pucci wrote in the statement.
Pucci said he requested the report from DSS Tuesday and received a copy Wednesday. He said he released the statement with the family's permission.
A letter from School Superintendent Gus Sayer to the mother of the 15-year-old student states that Myers acknowledged asking the boy to bare a nipple and inviting him to his home.
The letter's contents were disclosed by a group of parents at the Jan. 15 meeting of the school committee.
Myers announced his resignation later that night and filed it officially last month.
Gazette reporter Pancho Gutstein contributed to this report.
(This article was retrieved from the Archives at GazetteNet.com,)