ESD Trial, Day 15 UPDATED

While we’ve heard about Erin Mayo practically more than anyone besides Jane Doe II and Nathan Campbell, she hasn’t spoken for herself yet. That’s scheduled to change this a.m., as Mayo will be called to the witness stand.

What do you bet we’ll get another look at that “sad story” email?

UPDATE 1:15 p.m.

We got a late start today, so there isn’t as much testimony to share as usual. But here’s what I’ve got.

11:45 a.m.

Erin Mayo, head of the upper school, takes the stand and Charla Aldous comes out swinging.

“You believe that the situation with Nathan Campbell and Jane Doe II was handled appropriately in all manners?” Aldous asks.

“Yes,” Mayo says, adding that even with the benefit of hindsight she “wouldn’t change a thing.”

11:55 a.m.

Mayo says she “absolutely” understood why Jane was upset about teachers gossiping about her possible involvement with Campbell’s departure.

“She expressed she didn’t want people to know [it had been her who’d slept with Campbell],” Mayo says.

Noon

“It’s your testimony that Susan Weil directly heard Jane solicit children to go look and see if Sara Campbell was wearing her wedding ring?” Aldous asks.

“That’s what I understood at the time,” Mayo says. “I’ve learned since then that I misunderstood Ms. Weil.”

Mayo clarifies, adding that Weil didn’t actually hear Jane say anything about a wedding ring but instead heard the information second-hand from students.

Aldous asks Mayo if the “wedding ring incident” was the “culminating catalyst” in the decision to expel Jane.

“That’s correct,” Mayo says.

Aldous asks Mayo why she didn’t investigate the rumor to find out if it was true before beginning conversations to expel Jane.

“I was confident it had happened,” she says. “I have since discovered my error.”

12:05 p.m.

Mayo says she can’t be certain that her opinion that Jane needed to leave the school would have changed if she had known at the time that Weil hadn’t directly heard Jane ask students check on Mrs. Campbell.

Mayo says no one at ESD ever approached Jane about the “wedding ring incident” or other allegations that she was “failing to respect boundaries” before deciding she could no longer attend the school.

12:10 p.m.

Mayo says it crossed her mind that the decision to expel Jane might cause her “further harm.”

Aldous shows that in her deposition, Mayo actually said it hadn’t.

“But you knew it was a life-altering decision, did you not?” Aldous asks.

Mayo says yes.

12:15 p.m.

Mayo describes John Doe’s withdrawal of his daughter as “voluntary.”

John and Jane Doe, who are in the courtroom, bristle at this statement.

“But if he didn’t withdraw her, you were going to expel her?” Aldous asks.

“Yes,” Mayo says.

“This child was being expelled because of the consequences of one of your teachers sexually abusing her, was she not?”

“No,” Mayo says.

Aldous asks her if she’s saying that Campbell’s abuse didn’t create the environment in which rumors circulated and led to Jane’s removal from the school.

“If there’d been no abuse, there’d be no rumors, correct,” Mayo says.

“So the underlying event was Nathan Campbell sexually abusing her?” Aldous asks.

“Our decision was not a direct result of Nathan Campbell’s action with Jane Doe II,” Mayo says.

12:20 p.m.

Aldous asks if teachers should “err on the side of caution” regarding reporting inappropriate student/teacher interaction.

“It depends,” Mayo says.

“Teachers at ESD should know to report if a child makes them uncomfortable, shouldn’t they?” Aldous asks.

“Not necessarily,” Mayo says.

Aldous shows that once again, this answer contradicts Mayo’s deposition testimony.

12:25 p.m.

Mayo says that the notes by Dr. Andy McGarrahan dated 1/29/10, two days after Jane’s forced withdrawal, contain “inaccuracies” and “compress a lot of information.”

Mayo says that Marc Salz, who has Jane’s advisor her sophomore year and shared an office with Campbell, came to her on Jan. 22 to report that Jane had “turned her body in a way that her breasts were touching or nearly touching him” in chapel last year.

Aldous asks Mayo if a student touching or nearly touching a teacher with her breasts should be reported immediately.

Mayo hesitates and then says, “If it was intentional, it should be reported immediately.”

In McGarrahan’s report, it stated Salz’s wife believed the touching had been done intentionally for her to see.

Mayo says Jane’s flirting with faculty ¬†“was not outside the norm of teenage behavior.”

12:30 p.m.

On Jane’s last day at ESD, Mayo told her “Have a good trip” as she left her English class.

“And you knew she’d never be returning to ESD again, didn’t you?” Aldous asks.

“Not as a student, yes,” Mayo says, adding she said a silent prayer for Jane’s wellbeing that day as well.

The next time Mayo saw Jane was at her deposition, which Mayo observed.

Aldous asks Mayo if she ever doubted that she did the right thing as she watched Jane give her emotional deposition.

“It was painful to watch her, but I had no doubt,” she says.

12:35 p.m.

“If this happens to another student at ESD, you would do the exact same thing?” Aldous asks.

“If it’s under the exact same circumstances, yes,” Mayo says.

Aldous asks Mayo if the decision to expel Jane was really “in her best interest.”

Mayo says that it was.

“The truth is you didn’t want her haunting the halls with her sad story the rest of the week, isn’t it?” Aldous asks.

“Those were my words,” Mayo says. “I regret writing them. They don’t represent my feelings about Jane at all.”

Pass witness.

12:40 p.m.

Chrysta Castaneda is leading the cross-examination for ESD.

Mayo says she spends a lot of time “reacting” in her role as head of the upper school. She also says she likes her job “more often than not.”

Mayo says she did not personally hire Nathan Campbell, who joined the faculty in 2004. (Mayo started at ESD in 2007.)

12:45 p.m.

Castaneda shows Campbell’s background check, which was completed on 8/11/04, came back clean. She also shows his employment history and references were checked. Before coming to ESD, Campbell worked at the McFaddin-Ward House, a museum in Beaumont, and at the history department at the University of Kentucky.

One of Campbell’s references described him as having “an engaging personality” and said, “Nathan wears well.”

Another reference stated: “Nathan will be a tremendous asset anywhere he goes.”

12:50 p.m.

Castaneda goes through the ESD employee handbook, pointing out various rules and regulations, including the requirement that all employees participate in daily worship and monthly eucharist.

She instructs Mayo to read a sentence stating “all relationships between faculty and students are to be strictly professional.”

Mayo confirms that Campbell signed an employee contract stating he would follow all school rules.

1 p.m.

“Do you, from time to time, have to act in the best interest of a student even if the student doesn’t know you are doing so?” Castaneda asks.

“Yes,” Mayo says.

Lunch recess until 2:30 p.m.

2:40 p.m.

Castaneda reads from the employee handbook that consuming alcohol on school property or on a school trip is grounds for termination.

She asks Mayo if she considered Campbell’s purchase of two beers on two separate occasions to be a violation of this policy.

Mayo says no, because it wasn’t “an excessive purchase” or done in the presence of students.

2:45 p.m.

Castaneda shows Campbell’s employment contracts from the year he was hired, 2004 through the 2008-2009 school year. He got a raise every year, and was making $50,000 the year he began a sexual relationship with a student.

Mayo describes Campbell as “very appealing classroom teacher and lecturer.”

“He was very celebrated for that,” May says, adding that he was also a very harsh grader and was reprimanded for it.

2:50 p.m.

Castaneda shows a note from Campbell’s personnel file that a student complained he “talks bad about the French,” is “disrespectful,” and “the pace of the class is too fast.”

Mayo sent Campbell an email about this and other student complaints in August of 2009, opening with the statement “The context for this email is that I am your Number One Fan.”

“It was an exaggeration that I tossed in there before delivering a message I knew he would not like,” Mayo says, explaining it was her professional habit to open difficult conversations with a compliment.

3 p.m.

Campbell wrote Mayo back at 10:30 p.m. that night, saying “Any chance I get to improve my teaching, I am all for,” and that he recognized he “demanded quite a bit” from his students. He also said he “had a Darth Vader rep.”

In Mayo’s reply to this email, she addressed Campbell as “Darth” and told him “Your students already do have an excellent teacher.”

3:05 p.m.

Castaneda reads a letter that Mayo wrote to the Upper School students and parents. In it, she said “Students are expected to balance their needs with the overall goal of the school community.”

3:10 p.m.

Castaneda moves on to the Honor Code, which states students will not lie, cheat, or steal. While Mayo says the code primarily comes up in terms of academics, it also applies to all aspects of school life.

“Could ESD have decided to expel Jane as a result of an honor code violation?” Castaneda asks.

“We could have,” Mayo says, adding that they chose not to because Jane’s expulsion was not “a disciplinary response.”

3:15 p.m.

Mayo says that Jane’s “learning difference accommodations” allowed her access to teachers outside of regular classroom hours. Mayo says that as Jane’s English teacher, she communicated with her by emails late at night “many times.”

3:25 p.m.

Castaneda references ESD’s health curriculum, noting that sex education courses are taught in middle and upper school.

“Do you teach your students to recognize sexually inappropriate behavior from adults?” Castaneda asks.

“I believe it’s a an aspect of the sexual harassment training,” Mayo says.

Aldous objects, saying “Unless they’re going to say Jane was merely sexually harassed by Nathan Campbell, this has no relevance.”

Benson sustains the objection and the jury is instructed to disregard that portion of testimony.

3:30 p.m.

Castaneda & Co. now begin a painfully slow retelling of events from Nov. 30,2009 to Jan. 27, 2010. It takes two and a half hours and a portion of my soul.

Here are the items worth mentioning:

Mayo says she checked Campbell’s and Jane Doe II’s ESD email accounts on Nov. 30 after hearing about the incident with the Farmers Branch police and finds zero contact between the two.

Campbell described his decision to meet Jane in an abandoned parking lot to Rebecca Royall thusly, “with good intentions, I made a bad call in judgement.”

When Jane was called in to meet with Royall and Mayo, she asked “Is Mr. Campbell in trouble? Because he was just trying to help me.”

Mayo says she thought “a number of the details were implausible” in Campbell and Jane’s story about why they had met after hours in a parking lot.

“It’s not something that logical people would do,” Mayo says, adding that ¬†her concern grew when “their stories matched so exactly. It suggested planning.”

Mayo says around 9 p.m. on Nov. 30, she went to the parking lot described in the police report to see it for herself. She noted it was “a very secluded area” and called Royall from the scene.

The next day around 11 a.m. on Dec. 1, Mayo, Royall, and Stephen Swann met with Campbell, who was “very shakey and apologetic.”

“He said he’d learned from his mistake and that it had been ‘stupid to put everything on the line like that on an impulse,'” Mayo says, adding that Swann told him his employment was in question.

By 1:45 p.m., Campbell had tendered his resignation, stating in the letter:

“I accept responsibility for my actions and assume any blame that this incident has caused the Episcopal School of Dallas.”

He also offered his “heartfelt apologies.”

“Our fear was, the piece we did not have yet was that they’d had a sexual relationship,” Mayo says.

Mayo says Campbell was allowed to teach his last class of the day because “he wasn’t an imminent danger or threat” to anyone in that class, they didn’t have anyone else available, and lastly because Campbell said he needed to prep his students for a test the next day.

Mayo called an emergency faculty meeting for 7:45 a.m. the next day and broke the news of Campbell’s resignation. She says there was a “visible and audible reaction.”

“We know the shock of our students will be about 10x what it is here,” Mayo recalled telling faculty at the time.

She also says she was “very emphatic” that no one was to speculate as to why he’d left so abruptly. She assured everyone he was in good health as was his family.

Describing her meeting with Jane and her parents on Dec. 3, Mayo says that while she and Royall said the purpose of that meeting wasn’t to remove Jane from the school, it wasn’t off the table either.

“We didn’t make any kind of unequivocal promise that we’d let her stay through graduation,” Mayo says.

Between Nov. 30 and Dec. 4, Mayo says she contacted the Doe family 10 times.

Mayo describes Jane as “resilient.”

6 p.m.

Regarding the “wedding ring incident,” Mayo says, “I was so hoping it wasn’t true, because we so wanted her to stay.”

Mayo says the incident proved Jane was “a long and indefinite way from closure.”

Court is in recess until Monday.

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