Sonoma Academy graduates who raised harassment complaints launch website for victims to share stories and find support

The seven Sonoma Academy graduates who accused a former humanities professor of sexual harassment and forming inappropriate relationships with female students have launched a website for potential victims to share their stories and provide information about the mental health support.

Their initiative, called The Athena Project, was posted online Thursday afternoon, a day after Sonoma Academy school principal Tucker Foehl released a lengthy statement confirming numerous allegations by women against Marco Morrone, who taught at Sonoma Academy for 18 years.

Foehl’s statement also acknowledged that complaints from three of the women sparked an investigation in 2020 that led to Morrone’s dismissal in October.

The women accuse Morrone, 50, of touching inappropriately, soliciting one-on-one meetings in and out of the classroom and delving into their privacy by regularly asking questions about their romantic relationships and intimate feelings.

Morrone has not responded to The Press Democrat’s multiple requests for comment by phone, email and letters since Tuesday.

The women said the school’s survey of alumni experiences in 2020 did not include the contribution of many affected female students they had been in contact with in the past six months or so.

“We created the website initially because we felt there was a real need to tell people about what had happened and to leave space for people to reflect on their own experiences,” said Emma McAleavy, a 2008 alumna, who first reported it. concerns about Morrone’s behavior towards principals in 2007. It was the same year that Morrone was sanctioned and received counseling for his behavior, according to Foehl’s statement.

This message to alumni, parents and staff on Wednesday included a link to a platform for members of the school community wishing to make anonymous reports regarding “any type of misconduct occurring at Sonoma Academy”. Users must create an account with an email address or phone number before they can report.

The Athena Project website also invited other people to come forward and provided a way to do so.

“We are open to hearing from all members of the Sonoma Academy community regarding any disturbing interactions they have had with Marco or with the administration of Sonoma Academy,” the site read. “We respect and affirm all the choices you want to make regarding your personal story. “

The women also included information on how to find therapists and deal with the stressful emotions that arise when reliving traumatic experiences.

“Crucially, the public statement (from the Sonoma Academy) did not include any resources or offers of support for people who may be in pain right now,” McAleavy said in an interview Thursday. “Our website includes these kinds of resources. “

The name of the group is inspired by the Greek goddess of combat strategy, wisdom and justice. McAleavy said he grew up with the group after using it to avoid relying on another old label that women once had in common as college students: Marco’s Girls.

McAleavy acted as the site’s chief architect, but all of the women helped craft the posts and add resources.

“We thought deeply about what we wanted to say and how we could communicate in a respectful and supportive way to other women who might have been affected,” she said.

You can reach Editor-in-Chief Kaylee Tornay at 707-521-5250 or [email protected] On Twitter @ka_tornay. Contact editor Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or [email protected] On Twitter @pressreno.

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